Commonwealth GamesSport

Triathlon: Alex Yee wins second Commonwealth Games gold and wants access to triathlon widened for youngsters


Triathlon double gold medallist Alex Yee has spoken exclusively to the South London Press about what must be done to widen access to his sport.

The Lewisham ace emphasised the need to open up access to swimming pools and running tracks for youngsters and said Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan is in his corner.

Speaking moments after securing his second gold of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – this time after running the anchor leg of the mixed triathlon – Yee was again keen to grasp the transformative opportunity presented by medal success.

He said he had seen people fall by the wayside because of a lack of access to facilities and the cost of equipment including a road bike and wetsuit.

“School mates, people from my primary school, from secondary school, people who I was friends with at school and who my parents would give lifts to triathlon parks,” he said. “They couldn’t afford membership fees and luckily, at that time, we could allow people to come in and out, to come and try the sessions.

“But because of the cost of living and Covid and all that stuff, it’s not possible any more. These things really need backing. The brilliant thing for us, when we win a team medal, is we get to put a plaque somewhere and I really want to put it somewhere I feel I can make a difference.

Alex Yee for Team England during the mixed team relay triathlon at Sutton Park, Birmingham. Photo Credit: Sam Mellish / Team England.

“Hopefully somewhere in South London I can inspire somebody and hopefully that can create some backing and the Lewisham mayor, I’ve spoken to numerous times and he’s really behind trying to make a difference in that sense. Lewisham was London Borough of Culture and I think that stretches along from dance, arts and all that kind of stuff to sport as well.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in our community and hopefully we can. Hopefully this can be a catalyst.

“It’s about breaking down barriers,” Yee said of widening access to triathlon. “Starting with access to facilities – to a running track, having access to swimming pools. When I was a kid, if you had a library card, you could go and swim anywhere, under the age of, I think, 13. I think things like that just need to come back in and that’s really not expensive in the grand scheme of things. I think even little things make such a big difference.

“Swimming, as much as anything, is a life skill. You don’t have to do it like we do, professionally, it’s a life skill, it’s something you can do for enjoyment, to keep fit and it can be a positive thing so I think that’s really important.”

Back on the course, Yee had given England the perfect platform by giving Sophie Coldwell, who ran the second of the four legs, a near-20 second advantage over New Zealand.

The 24-year-old was renewing his duel with Kiwi Hayden Wilde, whom he beat to gold in the men’s triathlon on Friday, the latter punished by a 10-second penalty as the Englishman was hauling him in on a Sutton Park track he is so familiar with.

There were no penalties this time, Yee finishing fourth fastest on the 300m swim – behind South African Jamie Riddle, Wilde and Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk and putting in the third fastest time for the 5km bike ride, behind Bermudan Tyler Smith and Wilde.

It will have been deja-vu for the Kiwi as former Kingsdale Foundation School pupil Yee once again overhauled him on a punishing 2km run in blazing sunshine in Boldmere.

Alex Yee for Team England during the mixed team relay triathlon at Sutton Park, Birmingham. Photo Credit: Sam Mellish / Team England.

Sophie Coldwell, running the second leg for England, stretched that advantage to 27 seconds as Scotland and New Zealand vied for second place behind her but the lead was reduced in the third leg of the relay event as Samuel Dickinson came in 16 seconds ahead of Welshman Dominic Coy.

It was down to Georgia Taylor-Brown to try and bring it home on the final leg and she did so and then some, adding another eight seconds to England’s advantage on the swim before storming into a one-minute lead on the bike. With such an unassailable lead, the final leg was a procession as Taylor-Brown broke the tape 46 seconds ahead of Wales’ Non Stanford.

That made it a doubly happy day for Yee, as he embraced girlfriend Olivia Mathias, who had run the second leg for the silver medallists.

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