Sophie Coldwell storms Great Britain to mixed relay silver in Leeds

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·3-min read
A British quartet of Georgia Taylor-Brown, Sophie Coldwell, Tom Bishop and Grant Sheldon finished second on home soil (graham beardsley)
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Sophie Coldwell continued her Leeds love affair after her stunning second leg helped a depleted Great Britain surge to mixed relay silver at the AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds.

Deprived of Olympic gold medallists Jonny Brownlee and Alex Yee after they crashed out of Saturday’s individual race, Britain had work to do when Coldwell took over from Tom Bishop but she made up seven seconds to power to the front before handing Grant Sheldon a four-second lead.

The home quartet’s rivals roared back into contention, however, but Georgia Taylor-Brown, the only member of Team GB’s gold-winning Tokyo team in action, was undeterred despite starting 45 seconds back in fourth place and ran down all those in front aside from eventual winners Germany to claim her second silver in two days.

The result also marked Coldwell’s second podium of the weekend after she matched her efforts in last year’s race by taking bronze over the shorter sprint distance behind her teammate, with both achievements surpassing her wildest expectations.

“I think my legs are suffering a bit from yesterday but you always find something a bit extra for a relay,” explained Coldwell,

“It was just about stepping up and trying to deliver and get us as close to the front as possible, it was a good day out.

“I will take a lot from this. I definitely wasn’t expecting to get on the podium yesterday and getting on today was a complete bonus as well.

“It has been a good start to the season and I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I’m super proud of the team and getting on the podium is always nice.”

Bishop, 30, admitted he felt the pressure as both he and Sheldon were unexpectedly ushered into the line-up after Brownlee broke his elbow and Yee, who congratulated his teammates at the finish line, escaped serious injury but was advised to rest.

“I was so nervous starting it off, I just had to step up. I did what I could, got in the race and handed over to Sophie just within grasp of the front,” explained Bishop, who finished 33rd in the men’s race, seven places higher than Sheldon.

“The pressure was on. The girls came up with really great results yesterday and me and Grant were slightly disappointed but we just took the opportunity to step up and do it, it was a bit of redemption.”

Sheldon, 27, added: “I’ve not done a lot of relays in my career but it’s special to be a part of it for Great Britain. To have two such strong girls in the team, you’re just trying to keep them in the race!”

Sunday’s race was the first time the mixed relay has ever been staged in Leeds and also marked the beginning of the man-woman-man-woman format, leaving Coldwell in uncharted territory.

The 27-year-old explained: “I found it very different, in all the relays I’ve ever done even from youth level, I’ve always done the first legs but Georgia and I had a bit more time to prepare, so we knew what we were getting ready for.”

Coldwell took the spot filled by Jess Learmonth - who missed the entire weekend with a hip injury - at the Olympics and was effusive in her praise of the raucous crowd that assembled at Roundhay Park.

She added: “The atmosphere was incredible; a massive thanks to everyone who came out to support us.

“All around the cricket pitch it was so loud and everyone’s so close, it definitely felt like they were willing you on and it really helped towards the back end.”

The AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Leeds made its return to the city for the sixth time and if you’ve been inspired to take part visit https://www.britishtriathlon.org/get-involved/what-is-triathlon

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