By Derren Howard
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Joe Townsend is back home with his family after a quite remarkable para-triathlon victory on the Gold Coast of Australia.
It was a huge performance from the 30-year-old Eastbourne athlete to take top spot as Australian Nic Beveridge was second and fellow Aussie Bill Chaffey won bronze - showing incredible determination after a big crash.
Townsend tweeted, “Happy to be back home with the family and reflect on what was an awesome games. Massive thank you to all those that have sent messages. I will try and get back in due course but first, time to chill.”
It was a dramatic finale as former Royal Marine Townsend took full advantage when race-favourite Chaffey collided with the barrier allowing him to race past before over-taking Beveridge.
Chaffey had never previously been defeated by a fellow Commonwealth competitor in almost a decade of racing. Townsend took the lead coming into the second transition and finished in 62min 39sec with a 49sec margin over Beveridge to take the well-deserved gold medal.
Townsend, who lost both legs when he stood on an IED in Afghanistan in 2008, said, “For me it was the perfect day. Everything I planned I did, so I am really happy. I kept the gaps well in the swim and when I knew that worked, I knew the race was mine.
“Swimming was always going to be my weakest discipline and I knew that I was strong in the cycling, so I just needed to keep my cool.
“I found myself in the lead coming out of [transition two] and I knew others in the field couldn’t push past me,” said Townsend.
“It seems narrow-minded but I know what my strengths are and it was a dream finish for me. As soon as I was in to the second triathlon in the lead, I knew I was on target. If you look at the quality in the field, there’s world champions and top athletes so you can’t take away the intensity in a top venue, so yes I’m really happy.”
He later Tweeted, “It’s pretty surreal but I’m so happy to have won the first Paratriathlon gold. It’s an honour to represent England and feel proud to be able to contribute to the medal count. Big thanks to all those that support me and enable me to chase these dream moments.”
It is the first time the paratriathlon has been included in the Commonwealth Games and victory capped an improvement in results.
Townsend previously placed sixth in the Rio Paralympics and third in last year’s ITU World Championship in Rotterdam. Townsend is also a four-time Invictus Games champion.