Whitfield sprints to silver in triathlon

Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:43am EDT
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By Catherine Bremer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Sydney gold medalist Simon Whitfield took the Olympic silver for Canada, while Germany's Jan Frodeno won the gold medal on Tuesday in a dramatic sprint to the finish.

New Zealand's Bevan Docherty won the bronze in the baking hot Beijing swim-bike-run event.

Frodeno, a former swimmer and surf-lifeguard who took up triathlon eight years ago while living in South Africa, because a girl he fancied did it, battled with Docherty and 2008 world champion Javier Gomez of Spain, both heavily tipped for gold, for front position in the last two laps.

But the German, whose nickname is "Frodo," strode ahead at the final bend, overtaking all of them and leaving Gomez in fourth place, a full 20 seconds behind his finish time of one hour, 48 minutes and 53 seconds.

"It was a moment I had dreamed of so many times in my head. During the race I told myself: 'Boy, be greedy -- it's champagne or fizzy water'," an overwhelmed Frodeno said afterwards.

"I tried not to think that the others behind me were the fastest guys and the most famous triathletes. he said, adding he had learned his lesson from losing a lot of sprints this year.

The all-round fitness event came down to a running race, as the best sprinters held back and then surged past the winners of the swim and bike sections in the four-lap final section.

Frodeno, whose gold medal surprise came a day after his 27th birthday, punched the air triumphantly after breaking through the ribbon at the Ming Tombs reservoir course north of Beijing.   Continued...

<p>Simon Whitfield of Canada poses with his silver medal after the men's triathlon competition at the Ming Tomb reservoir in the Changping District of northern Beijing during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 19, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>