Grant Sheldon made a big step into his senior triathlon career last week with a 12th place in the European Championships in Kitzbuhel.
The Scot, who recently announced he would be in the Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow, had a modest swim and a bike ride that surpassed that of eventual winner Alistair Brownlee, but his run of 32:47 reined in his overall success. Nevertheless, in a field of 59 finishers, Sheldon’s 12th is his first result in a European Championship and is poised to go onto greater things.
Having finished third in the Youth World Championship series last year, the former swimmer has made his first foray into top-level World Triathlon Series events with a 12th place in Auckland followed by a similar result in Yokohama. That result prompted Sheldon to declare that WTS race would probably be the “last one this year to focus on big goals this season”. With the European Championships out of the way, the next “goal” will be representing Scotland in his home nation.
“I’ll be competitive and I think that’s the main aim — to be in the race, to be up there challenging the top guys,” Sheldon told the Daily Record. “It would be awesome if I could win a medal. I think, being realistic, the first two places are probably sewn up. You shouldn’t really say that, leading into a race, because anything can happen, but if it goes according to form, then that will be the scenario.”
Those “two places” are likely to fought between the Brownlee brothers, with Alistair having recently won in the European Championships, younger brother Jonny not entering. The European gold is the first victory of the season for either brother, although they have both been up there all year and are much more likely to earn a Commonwealth title without Spanish powerhouses Javier Gomez and Mario Mola attempting to steal the show.
Elsewhere in the Europeans, Sheldon’s fellow Scot David McNamee made his competitive return to triathlon with an impressive sixth place in Kitzbuhel. Matthew Sharp also snook into into the top ten with an overall time of 1:55.48. Marc Austin was the other finisher in 23rd. British females weren’t as represented, but Lois Rosindale earned 5th place, a welcome reprieve following disqualification in London last month. Holly Lawrence finished in 11th, 28 seconds behind her compatriot.
Outside of top-level racing, the African Cup event in Larache hosted two Brits hoping to make a global impact. Beau Smith made his first appearance of the year with 16th place, progress from the 31st he reached in Antalya last year. Elliot Smales also made his senior debut, finishing 28th and in a time just short of 65 minutes.