Olympics: Diploma for Hug in men's triathlon
The St Gallen triathlete Reto Hug has completed a great Swiss weekend in the new Olympic sport. Hug finished eighth in the men's event to add an Olympic diploma to the gold and bronze medals won by Brigitte McMahon and Magali Messmer on Saturday.
The competition in the men's event was always expected to be tight. Before the race it was said that up to two dozen athletes had the potential to take the gold.
The close finishing times of the top competitors proved the predictions right, with just 57 seconds separating the Canadian winner, Simon Whitfield, from Hug in eighth place. Hug's compatriots, Markus Keller and Jean-Christophe Guinchard finished 18th and 24th respectively in a field of 52 triathletes.
As in the women's race, the men swam 1,500 metres across Sydney Harbour, before cycling 40 kilometres and running for 10 kilometres through the heart of the city.
It was a stunning setting for the sport's Olympic debut, but for Swiss sports fans it will be the performance of McMahon that lives longest in the memory.
The 33-year-old mother from canton Zug enhanced her reputation as one of the sport's greatest runners, after racing through the field in the final stage. Lying in 13th place following the swimming and cycling stages, McMahon's pace on foot was beyond any of her rivals, eventually taking her across the finish line two seconds ahead of the Australian favourite, Michellie Jones.
After winning on the world's biggest stage in triathlon's first Olympic showing, McMahon was almost speechless.
"It's unbelievable," she told reporters. "I just can't express it... just fantastic. When I got to that last turn and saw it was just Michellie and me I thought 'first or second, I can't lose' but then tried to push it as hard as I could."
By winning gold and bronze medals in the opening event of Sydney 2000, McMahon and Messmer gave Switzerland its best ever Olympic start, and considerably helped the Swiss delegation's efforts to match the country's impressive medal tally in Atlanta.
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