IN A YEAR when we saw two of the most incredible political surprises in history (Brexit and Trump qualify, don’t they?), 2016 was a mixed bag on the expected/surprise front in triathlon. For the most part the people we expected to win the big events did, but there were more than a few shockers, too. In honour of the inability of pollsters to call elections in Britain and the U. S. in 2016, I present a list of triathlon results we totally saw coming and the ones we didn’t.
EXPECTED Alistair Brownlee takes gold in Rio. Jonathan Brownlee takes silver. SURPRISE Javier Gomez breaks his elbow in a freak bike accident and has to skip the Olympics.
Gwen Jorgensen takes Olympic gold.
Nicola Spirig’s close fought silver – in April she was still dealing with a broken hand. Flora Duffy wins the ITU Grand Final and, along with that, the ITU World Championship. Sure, Gwen was gunning after Rio, but I defy anyone to have called Flora’s big win and her holding off possibly the greatest women’s runner in triathlon history.
Jan Frodeno sets a new world record in Roth.
No surprises here. The guy is the total package and anyone who has watched him work his way into long distance racing knew that was coming. 7:35:39? Yep. He’s that good. Yeah, no surpise there, either. And anyone who watched Sebastian Kienle racing all year knew he was going to push Frodeno to his limits, too. The German podium sweep? If Patrick Lange hadn’t been able to run his way up there, who knows if Andi Boecherer would have found another gear and finished a few seconds ahead of Ben Hoffman instead of a few behind. Daniela Ryf finishes fourth. This should and shouldn’t have been a surprise. She hadn’t lost a race in two years, but she was coming off two full-distance races in a week just a month before. Even Daniela can’t get over that. She annihilates the field and the course record, finishing 22 minutes ahead of Mirinda Carfrae. We knew she was good, but that good? OK, this one has to go down as a total shocker. In one of the most bizarre races ever, Henri Schoeman takes the Grand Final in Cozumel. Jonathan Brownlee was in total control of the race. Alistair Brownlee was running along next to Schoeman, marking every move, seemingly trying to control the race so that his brother could win and Mario Mola wouldn’t finish high enough to take the world title. Jonathan keels over with a few hundred metres to go. Alistair literally picks him up and carries him across the line, pushing him across in second. Richard Murray runs in fourth, then stops at the finish line to wait for Mario Mola to give him his spot if it would net the Spaniard the world title. Then Murray finds out he