England’s Alex Yee said his Commonwealth Games gold was the best moment of his career to date but admitted the anticlimactic finish to the men’s triathlon was “a shame”.
Olympic silver medallist Yee, who is based in Loughborough, made up 15 seconds on the run to catch his rival and New Zealand’s world No.1 Hayden Wilde to win Team England’s first medal at Birmingham’s Sutton Park.
However, Wilde had to serve a controversial 10-second penalty for unclipping his helmet before racking his bike which deprived the crowd of a sensational sprint finish.
New Zealand’s appeal led to a lengthy delay to the medal ceremony before Wilde was awarded silver, but he could yet be upgraded to gold alongside Yee with the official process lasting up to 30 days.
“I don’t know anything about the process going on, to be honest. I’m sorry for Hayden that it happened but I don’t know anything more about it,” said Yee, 24, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“Everyone wants to see a sprint finish and an exciting race. At the top of the hill when I caught him, I said, ‘Sorry you’ve got a penalty mate - it’s rubbish’.
“We want to race the race the hard way and the honest way, so it’s a shame but it’s still special to share that moment with him at the end.
“I’d love to be in a battle and I think for me, I always want to race the people in the race and for that to be taken out of my hands is a shame.
“But at the same time, it was really special to be able to pick up a flag and just enjoy the moment. That was a really special moment for me and probably the best of my career so far.”
Despite the finish being mired in controversy, Wilde celebrated Yee’s win as he served his penalty and the two fist-bumped as they passed, embodying the spirit of the friendly Games.
The pair have dominated World Series racing this year with two wins each but Yee insisted there was no hint of revenge after Wilde’s win in Leeds last month came when he caused a crash on the bike that took Yee out of the race and ended Jonny Brownlee’s hopes of competing here.
Yee added: “I raced my own race. I just want to get back from stuff like that [crash in Leeds], so getting that momentum and confidence back in myself I think is more important than getting any sort of comeback.
“We are great friends on and off the course. It’s really special to share moments like that with people and hopefully we are bringing on the sport and maybe it’s a new rivalry in the making.”
Yee’s exploits at Tokyo 2020, which finished with him sealing mixed relay gold on the anchor leg, took place without fans and he was delighted to win gold in front of a raucous home crowd that included his parents.
He said: “To finally do a major championships in front of my parents and in front of a crowd as well, is really special. I feel hugely honoured to kick off these Games on such a positive note.”
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