Lee steps back for future of triathlon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 November, 2010, 12:00am

Triathlon will retain its elite status with the Hong Kong Sports Institute - by the skin of the wetsuit that Andrew Wright wore as he finished seventh in the men's event yesterday.

It was a result that the sport desperately needed, especially with Daniel Lee Chi-wo, the saviour four years ago, failing to come up with another miracle at a sun-drenched Central Lake District. Once Lee knew he was out of medal reckoning - struggling with cramp from about 500 metres into the 10-kilometre run - he concentrated on guiding teammate Wright home into seventh.

Had Wright finished one place further adrift, triathlon would have lost millions of dollars in funding from the government. So it was no surprise to see Lee allowing Wright to finish the race a step ahead of him for the benefit of the sport, which needed Lee to finish in the medals or Wright to claim at least seventh place.

'I'll retire after the Asian Beach Games in Oman in December,' Lee said. 'I'm 33 and it's time to move on.'

Four years ago, Lee won triathlon a reprieve when he claimed the silver medal in Doha. There was no fairy-tale ending this time, but he did his job, following team orders to the letter.

Despite staying in touch with the leading group at the end of the 1.5-kilometre swim and the 40-kilometre bike ride, Lee could not quite find his legs in the run, despite starting the final leg in fourth place.

Japanese duo Yuichi Hosoda and Ryosuke Yamamoto set a punishing pace and had soon built a sizeable lead, which never looked like being threatened by the rest of the 22-strong field.

Hosoda won the gold, running to the finish line with several celebratory fist pumps in a time of one hour, 52 minutes and 15 seconds. Yamamoto took silver in 1:52:41.

Kazakhstan veteran Dimitry Gaag, returning after a two-year doping suspension, won the bronze medal. He became the first triathlete to win multiple medals at the Asian Games, having won gold four years ago.

Wright finished in a time of 1:54:45, while Lee came home a second behind.