Birtwhistle steps it up for silver

LAUNCESTON triathlete Jake Birtwhistle fell agonisingly short of winning a gold medal after being pipped on the line in the ITU World Junior Triathlon Championships in Canada yesterday.

Launceston triathlete Jake Birtwhistle has claimed a silver medal in the ITU World Junior Triathlon Championships in Canada.

Launceston triathlete Jake Birtwhistle has claimed a silver medal in the ITU World Junior Triathlon Championships in Canada.

The 19-year-old Birtwhistle went neck-and-neck with Frenchman Raphael Montoya in a sprint finish to the line in Edmonton, only to fall just short with 17-year-old Queenslander Calvin Quirk taking the bronze medal.

Birtwhistle and Quirk are the first Australian junior males to finish on the podium at the world championships in more than 10 years.

‘‘It is a whole lot better feeling than finishing sixth in London last year – and although it would have been nice to take the gold, it is satisfying to get on the podium and with Calvin, who did a great job,’’ Birtwhistle said.

‘‘I feel like I have grown so much in the past 12 months and I feel I am ready to take the next step into the senior ranks.’’

The day also featured another golden moment for legendary Australian triathlete Michellie Jones.

Jones turned back the clock to add another world title to her impressive list of achievements when she clocked the fastest time of any age grouper on the day to win her first ITU age group world sprint distance title in the 45-49 age group.

And Nanging Youth Olympic gold medallist Brittany Dutton stormed home to finish an encouraging sixth in the junior girls.

Birtwhistle and Quirk gave Australia a flying start, emerging from a red hot field of 70 starters.

A group of over 40 riders battled the four laps on the tricky bike course before the ‘‘charge of the light brigade’’ through transition and it didn’t take long for Birtwhistle to dictate the run.

Australia’s Matt Roberts finished 25th with Daniel Coleman 47th.

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