I’m watching the Men’s triathlon right now, and leading the pack is Colin Jenkins, a native of Hamilton, Ontario. Before watching this event, I had assumed that every man racing right now would be vying for a medal. But as it turns out, Colin Jenkins, though he is leading the pack right now is not expecting to win a medal. His primary role is to support his fellow Canadian team members by leading the pack and controlling the pace. See, Jenkins is a great swimmer and a cyclist, but he’s a weak runner (relative to his fellow competitors). So his job is to put out all his energy on the swimming and cycling to help his teammates.
By getting out in front of the group, he can slow the pace down to allow the Canadians to keep near the front. The idea is that his teammate Simon Whitfield or Paul Tichelaar can run their way to the finish line to win a medal. Whitfield won a Gold medal in Sydney in 2000, while Tichelaar is Canada’s top-rated triathlete of 2008, ranked sixth in the world. So either Tichelaar or Whitfield has a strong chance at a medal today and Jenkins will be playing a large role.
It’s amazing to me that a sport that I had assumed was an individual sport can be a team sport. Jenkins is making a sacrifice for his teammates, and won’t even receive a medal if his teammates win. I hope Jenkins goes on to win a medal in the future; it sounds to me like he has a promising career ahead of him if he can work on his running.
In Jenkin’s own words: “I am also going to Beijing as a domestique for Simon Whitfield and when the run portion rolls around, I will have done my job and I can struggle through the last portion hopefully with a healthy and pain-free knee”. This guy is one hell-of-a sportsman in my books.
*Update: Simon Whitfield has just won the Silver medal! He bounced back from 4th place and took the lead with about 600 meters remaining, putting forth a valiant effort, but German Jan Frodeno made an amazing sprint at the end to beat Whitfield by 5 seconds. It was an amazing finish.