Maitland triathlete Brendan Sexton improved his performance in the water but a punctured tyre meant he failed to finish in Hamburg at the final lead-up event before the London Olympics.
The 26-year-old was in 33rd position after completing the 750 metre swim in a time of eight minutes and 52 seconds at the ITU World Championship Series round on Sunday, but less than one minute into the 20 kilometre bike leg his good work was brought undone.
Following the technical malfunction Sexton, the 2007 Maitland Sportsperson of the Year, failed to finish the race and didn’t even begin the third and final 5km run section of the German course.
It was a disappointing outcome for Sexton after struggling with his swim leg in recent times, including the Madrid and San Diego events of the world series when Australian selections were being finalised.
But with youth on his side amid hot competition, Sexton was given the nod to make his Olympic debut and over the weekend the former Maitland Swimming Club member repaid those who showed faith in him by performing well in the opening discipline.
Despite the mishap on the bike, Australia’s head triathlon coach Shaun Stephens said there were positives to take out of the showing from Sexton.
“It was disappointing for Brendan, who came out of the water in 33rd place, putting him in a strong position to work from but then a puncture ruined his race,” Stephens said in an Australian Olympic Committee media release.
“A shame, but not the end of the world.”
There was better news for Sexton’s national teammates at Hamburg ahead of the main race at Hyde Park on August 7, with Brad Kahlefeldt placing sixth after a bout of pneumonia
threatened to derail his Olympic campaign in May.
The 33-year-old was 30th out of the water but stormed home in the run leg to grab a top 10
finish after stopping the clock at 52 minutes and five seconds (52:05), while the third Australian representative for London 2012 in Courtney Atkinson (52:45) ended up in 28th.
“That’s just the kind of hit out Brad needed, it was solid in one of the fastest races I have seen – it was on,” Stephens said.
“It was a race that didn’t really suit our athletes either.
“Our guys are strength based and not sprint based so there was certainly some encouraging signs for the Olympics.
“We came here to use this race as a hit out and it has been perfect for that.”
Sexton’s training partner and fellow Maitland Triathlon Club member Aaron Royle finished 20th overall in the 61-man field with a time of 52:27, less than a minute behind South African winner Richard Murray (51:48).
In the women’s event at Hamburg, the Australian triathlon team were given an almighty boost in their Olympic gold medal defence with Erin Densham (56:07) and Emma Moffatt (56:19) going one-two.
Australia’s third Olympic representative Emma Jackson did not finish the race.
The Olympic women’s triathlon will be held on August 4.