That’s how New Zealand men’s sprint triathlete Hayden Wilde saw a penalty ruling which clearly hindered his quest for gold and brought about a protest on day one of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The protest may take up to 30 days to adjudicate on and could possibly result in Wilde’s promotion to dual gold with race winner Alex Yee.
“The team with Triathlon NZ are sorting that out with the World Triathlon Committee,” Wilde said after the medal ceremony.
“We’ve focused on the basis of what they alleged happen didn’t happen,” Wilde’s coach Craig Kirkwood said.
Wilde was chased down on the run leg by great rival Yee of England, who had also pipped him for silver at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old was given a 10-second time penalty at the end of the cycle leg in transition for unclipping his helmet prematurely – in the 750-meter swim, 20km cycle and 5km run event on day one of competition.
As the duo entered the finishing straight, Wilde tapped fists with Yee and waited to serve out his time penalty before finishing 13 seconds behind the host nation’s star.
“I don’t want to take anything off Alex, he deserved that medal. That’s happened before, that there’s been a double gold medal, ”said Wilde, who acknowledged that Yee also felt the penalty ruling was unfair.
Wilde said the penalty created uncertainty in his mind on the run leg as Yee closed the gap on him, and said he had followed the same routine almost all season in the transition.
“I knew exactly what it was – which is extremely debatable.
“I had to weigh up ‘Do I get disqualified, and then protest, or do I get that second place?’, And I’m not going to risk that for my country,” Wilde said.
“I didn’t really know what to do – potentially I should have taken it on the first lap, and then try and hunt Alex down, or see if I can hold him off.”
AARON WOOD / STUFF
New Zealand is sending 232 athletes to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Wilde said he was initially uncertain what he’d been penalized for.
“I just saw V1, which is a violation … I thought ‘Did I just knock someone out in the water or something? I didn’t really know.
“If I knew it was about the helmet … aaah, potentially, but why risk a medal you know?
“There’s such a fine line – I definitely knew I had my bike inside the rack and I was using it as a balance plate – when you come off the bike, your legs are a bit jelly. I had it [the helmet] in one hand, I was getting ready to unclip and … started taking my shoes off and put my helmet in the box.
“I’ve done it like nearly this whole season and haven’t been pulled up for a penalty, so, extremely debatable, but that’s what you do when you get so close to marginal gains.”
Wilde and NZ team-mate Tayler Reid staked their claim immediately by leading after the initial swim leg and increased that advantage on the bike, to head off on to the final run leg.
Wilde instantly showed his prowess on the run but Yee rapidly began his pursuit and his eventual path to gold.
Reid faded on the run to finish eighth, 1:11 behind Yee with fellow Kiwi Dylan McCullough nabbing seventh place, 10 seconds ahead of Reid.
NZ’s Nicole van der Kaay was also given a 10-second penalty during the women’s race and ended in ninth spot, while veteran Andrea Hansen was 18th in a race won by defending Commonwealth and Olympic champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda.