Sophie Coldwell storms to triathlon World Series gold in Yokohama

Sophie Coldwell picked up the biggest win of her career to date in Japan, defeating a world class field to claim World Series gold

Sophie Coldwell won World Series gold in Yokohama (Credit: Paul Mitchell/British Triathlon)
Sophie Coldwell won World Series gold in Yokohama (Credit: Paul Mitchell/British Triathlon)

By Tom Harle, Sportsbeat

Nottingham's Sophie Coldwell put in a stunning performance to claim a maiden World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) gold in Yokohama.

The 28-year-old led from the start of the run and never looked back in a dominant victory.

It is the best individual result of her career and her first gold medal on the top-level circuit, a towering statement with the Paris 2024 Olympics looming large.

The Keyworth star said: “I’ll try not to cry! It’s a dream, I can’t believe it. I call myself a grafter and I try really hard, so this is an emotional one.”

Coldwell was the first of three Brits in the top ten in Japan with Kate Waugh finishing fifth and Olympic silver medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown coming home seventh.

Coldwell, wearing the No.1 bib in a WTCS race for the first time, wasted no time in stating her intentions in Port of Yokohama.

Maya Kingma of the Netherlands set the standard on the swim and Coldwell and Waugh were both able to hang with the pace of a 12-strong leading group.

Taylor-Brown, who finished 15th in the Abu Dhabi season opener, saw her challenge falter at this stage as she emerged from the water 31 seconds behind the leader.

That group of 12 quickly became seven as they jumped onto the bike - both Coldwell and Waugh were still there.

Soaking wet conditions made bike handling tricky and the chase group, spearheaded by Taylor-Brown, fell a full 42 seconds behind the leaders after two laps of the technical course.

That gap only widened and stood at more than 1:30 going into the second transition which was the moment Coldwell chose to make her move.

The British star dropped USA’s Taylor Spivey and opened up a 24-second lead at the halfway stage with smooth, powerful running, Spivey’s team-mate Taylor Knibb her closest challenger.

Mexico’s Rosa Maria Tapia outstripped Knibb to claim her country’s best-ever WTCS result - but the gold medal was never in doubt.

Coldwell ran 33:53 for 10km and crossed the blue carpet in a triumphant time of 1:53.32, 17 seconds ahead of the Mexican, with Waugh fifth in 1:54.20 and Taylor-Brown 28 seconds behind her in seventh.

Coldwell upgraded silver from Abu Dhabi, behind team-mate Beth Potter, to gold to climb into top spot in the WTCS women’s rankings and make it two wins from two for Great Britain.

Coldwell said: “We had a really great block in Australia just before Abu Dhabi and I just raced off the back of that. I came here just trying to put the same processes into place.

“This year is all about Olympic selection. In Great Britain we have such a strong roster of girls.

“I wanted to put in a great winter block this year and secure that this year. It’s going to be a hard year and hopefully this is just another step forward.”

In the men’s race, Willis was racing among the world’s best on the WTCS circuit for the second time after finishing 32nd at the 2022 Finals in Abu Dhabi.

The 26-year-old found the going tough on the bike leg in tricky conditions but a strong 32:19 effort on the run placed him between Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle and Morgan Pearson of USA.

Barclay Izzard, who opened his season with an impressive 15th place in Abu Dhabi, saw his hopes end with a DNF after the swim leg.

There are five more stops on the 2023 WTCS with Sunderland staging a race for the first time on 29-30 July, with the series culminating in Pontevedra, Spain in September.

AJ Bell 2023 WTCS Sunderland will host elite individual and mixed relay triathlon on 29-30 July, with opportunities for thousands of amateur participants to give swim, bike, run a go across a range of different distances throughout the weekend. Find out more https://sunderland.triathlon.org/.