2012 Highlights: Smashing sprint finishes

2012 Highlights: Smashing sprint finishes

By Erin Greene on 13/12/12 at 11:01 am

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A look back at some of the amazing sprint finishes of 2012

This season we were treated to a number of sprint finishes. Heart pounding, nerve racking, nail biting, awe-inspiring all out sprint finishes. In this week’s review of the best moments from 2012, we take a look back at some of those finishes that made us all hold our breath until the very last minute.

London Olympics
Without a doubt the most exciting, down to the line finish was the battle between Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Lisa Norden (SWE) at the 2012 London Olympic Games. After a midsized bike pack entered the second transition together, the women’s podium was wide open. Strong runners Norden, Spirig, Sarah Groff (USA), Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Erin Densham (AUS) and hometown favourite Helen Jenkins (GBR) were amongst the group that emerged as the athletes to beat on the first lap, clouding who would be the next Olympic champion.

But by the last of four laps, Norden and Spirig ran slightly ahead, while Densham and Groff tried to keep pace from behind. The leading pair flew down the finishing chute together, making the winner more unclear than ever. With Olympic victory on the line, neither athlete relented as they went stride for stride down the blue carpet. Roared on by an enthusiastic crowd, Spirig thrust her chest out while Norden lunged forward for the tape. In a photo finish, Spirig earned her first Olympic gold medal, while Norden took home silver.

ITU World Triathlon Yokohama
Norden found herself in a gritty duel for the second time this season when her training partner Anne Haug (GER) challenged her in Yokohama. After the flat bike course, Norden, Haug, Densham, Emma Moffatt (AUS), Maaike Caelers (NED), Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) and Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) surfaced as the leaders on the flat 10km run course.

Aussies Gentle and Moffatt trended in front, but it was Norden and Haug who entered the lengthy finish chute first. With the home stretch nearly one-third of a kilometer long, Haug momentarily pumped ahead of Norden. But the powerful Swede responded, pulling even with Haug before just edging her out as the first woman to hit the finish tape.

Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Grand Final Auckland
In a heavy weight fight for the World Championship title, Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez (ESP) wanted the same thing – to win. Brownlee and London training partner Richard Varga (SVK) got a head start on the bike after a lightning fast swim. But the hilly bike course leveled the playing field, as the leaders were reeled in.

Although Kiwi and powerful cyclist Kris Gemmell owned a solid lead heading onto the run, Gomez and Brownlee quickly ran him down. Together, the Olympic medallists hammered for the finish line going nearly step for step. Brownlee enjoyed a small lead heading towards the finish until Gomez blasted past him in a surprise sprint to the podium. Brownlee attempted to chase after the Spaniard, but with marginal space to work with, he was relegated to silver while Gomez took the top spot. However, the second place finish was good enough to give Brownlee his first World Championship title. 

ITU World Triathlon Kitzbühel
The day belonged to the Brownlees in Kitzbühel, with Alistair scorching his way to gold in a monster sub-30 minute run. Jonathan followed for silver nearly a minute late. But the podium wasn’t so secure for the other competitors.

While it appeared as if Gomez would be the third man on the podium on the first lap of the run, Russians Alexander Bryukhankov and Dmitry Polyanskiy had something else in mind. Both Russians challenged a fatigued Gomez and surged ahead of him in the hunt for bronze.

After Gomez recovered from the blistering pace Alistair had set at the start of the foot fight, he worked to overtake the Russians on the last lap. In the final few hundred meters, he got the job done, pulling ahead for bronze by nine seconds.