Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games

Triathlete Joanna Brown wins Canada's 1st medal of Commonwealth Games

Joanna Brown won Canada's first medal at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, collecting bronze in the women's triathlon.

24-year-old from Carp, Ont., makes comeback after injuring shoulder in March

Canada's Joanna Brown races to the line to win bronze in the women's triathlon on Day One of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Canada's first medal of the Commonwealth Games came the hard way.

Joanna Brown, who almost didn't make the race after fracturing her left shoulder in a bike crash March 2 in the opening race of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi, ran down one rival after another in the race's final stage to claim bronze in the women's triathlon.

Bermuda's Flora Duffy, the two-time world champion and current world No. 1, won the first gold of the games in a time of 56 minutes 50 seconds, under sunny skies and a temperature of 27 Celsius at Southport Broadwater Parklands.

No. 7 Jessica Learmonth of England took the silver, 43 seconds behind, with Brown another five seconds in arrears. Brown edged England's Vicky Holland by four seconds for third.

"There are no words to describe this feeling right now," Brown said after the race. "It has been the most chaotic month, with fracturing my shoulder in Abu Dhabi in March, but I have had the most incredible team of doctors and physiotherapists and coaches who have helped me a lot."

The Canadian triathlete finished 3rd in the women's triathlon, earning Canada's 1st medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia. 1:34

Gutsy performance

It was a gutsy performance from the 24-year-old from Carp, Ont., whose first-pain free swim following the crash came just days before Thursday's race.

Learmonth had a razor-thin lead over Duffy after the swim and bike portions. The two traded the lead several times during the bike ride but the Bermudian pulled away on the run.

Brown was 11th after the swim and 10th after the bike ride, picking off one rival after another during the run, eventually winning the duel with Holland for third.

"I was kind of in the middle of the pack during the swim and then coming onto the bike I was a bit nervous having fallen off and fractured my shoulder less than a month ago so I just chilled on there," Brown said. "I haven't done much road training so that also made me nervous. I have been doing a lot of running training so I knew that was going to be my strongest leg so I just ramped it up there.

"I really wanted it, so I'm super-happy with the result."

Said Holland: "I lost my legs at the end of the run. Joanna deserved the bronze. She ran really smart to finish it off, and deserved all the credit for winning the bronze."

Dominika Jamnicky of Guelph, Ont., was 14th and 18-year-old Desirae Ridenour of Cowichan. B.C., was 17th.

The Gold Coast event took place on a sprint course for the first time at the games. The course featured a 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike ride and a five-kilometre run.

Coming off career year

The Olympic event features a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike ride and 10-kilometre run.

South Africa's Henri Schoeman won the men's race in 52:31, finishing seven seconds ahead of Australian Jacob Birtwhistle and 13 seconds in front of Scotland's Marc Austin.

English star Jonny Brownlee was seventh while brother Alistair was 10th.

Victoria's Matt Sharpe was ninth, Tyler Mislawchuk of Oak Bluff, Man., 12th and Alexis LePage of Gatineau, Que., 13th.

The mixed team relay and para-triathlon go Saturday.

Brown, who has put her commerce degree at the University of Guelph on hold while she follows her triathlon dream, is currently ranked ninth in the ITU world rankings.

Brown had a career year in 2017 when she finished on the podium at three World Cup events, was fourth twice on the World Triathlon Series and placed fifth at the world championships in Rotterdam.

Run of bad luck

But she also had a run of bad luck.

Brown came into last year's test event on the Gold Coast in fine form, only to be struck down by food poisoning the week before. In December, she broke her wrist in a freak accident in the gym.

Then came Abu Dhabi.

Canada had won three previous triathlon medals at the Commonwealth Games. Simon Whitfield and Carol Montgomery both earned gold in 2002 in Manchester, England, while Kirsten Sweetland claimed silver in 2014 in Glasgow.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.