Games medallist Jake Birtwhistle glad of nation-wide support

OLD MATES: Birtwhistle catches up with swimming coach Trent Hadley on Wednesday. Picture: Scott Gelston
OLD MATES: Birtwhistle catches up with swimming coach Trent Hadley on Wednesday. Picture: Scott Gelston

Jake Birtwhistle’s run leg in the Commonwealth Games individual triathlon indicated he was a fast finisher.

But the first Australian to medal in Gold Coast proved it for sure on Monday when he returned to his native Launceston with more than half the Games still to go.

A busy Triathlon World Series calendar means he’s already set his sights on new goals - but it would be remiss to leave winning Commonwealth gold and silver in front of family uncelebrated.

“It was awesome - they don’t get to see me race that often anymore because usually I’m on the other side of the world,” Birtwhistle said.

“So between having family there out on course and the rest of the crowd it was unreal - it was so loud running back on that last lap of the run in the individual, the crowd was just going nuts.”

And there wasn’t just encouragement from Games spectators either – there were plenty cheering him on from back home.

Birtwhistle confirmed the keen support of Riverside Primary School – his old hunting ground – had reached his eyes more than 2000 kilometres away.  

“I had hundreds of message to try and get back to and then I was just scrolling and I saw the Riverside Primary gym and there were all these kids standing up on chairs just going crazy.

“It was pretty cool to see, it’s a bunch of young kids that are excited about triathlon and sport in general which is really cool.”

Already an under-23 world champion and world number 5, the 23-year-old will now have to get used to having a gold and silver medal in his possession and on his Wikipedia page.

Birthwhistle said it hadn’t yet sunk in, and might take a while to do so.

“There were so many things that made it such a great experience.

“Being my first Commonwealth Games, that’s going to be awesome regardless, and being in Australia so you’ve got the home support is another step again.

“And then performing well twice and getting on the podium... that’s kind of it, it can’t really get much better than that.”