Baku 2015: Benson win underlines promise, says Purcell

15 June 2015 / 12:40

Gordon Benson laid down a marker for the future with his European Games triathlon gold, according to British team coach Brendan Purcell.

Benson, 21, won Team GB's first-ever medal at the inaugural event with a dominant victory on Sunday to prove that British triathlon isn't all about the all-conquering Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny.

The Olympic champion and his former world champion younger brother are focussed on World Triathlon Series competitions this summer and the Olympic test event at Rio's Copacabana Beach in August, which forms a key part of the 2016 selection process.

Tom Bishop, who finished 16th in Baku, will compete in Rio alongside the Brownlees, Adam Bowden, Mark Buckingham and Aaron Harris but Benson will prioritise other targets this season.

Great Britain will look to field a full quota of three athletes at Olympics and there are plenty of selection options for Purcell.

"This is a great result for Gordon," he said. "He was in world under-23s last year so we see Gordon as an athlete of the future for us.

"One of his goals is to learn how to produce big performances in big races. We thought Gordon was best placed to do that here, but actually all the athletes did that. They all talked about giving a team performance and they did.

"This year we're still focusing on who will be the individual athlete who qualifies us for the Olympics and then it's a matter of assessing who's the best fit. 

"That's still very open but Gordon has shown what he can do and Tom has also shown what he can do. We've got other athletes who might come through too."

Winning individually but racing as a team is a key part of the philosophy at British Triathlon and no-one does that better than the Brownlees. But it was also in evidence in Baku as Bishop and Philip Graves put themselves on the line for Benson to deliver at the finish line.

"We know if we try and work together and play to our strengths we can get a result and if we don't a better man won on the day," added Purcell.

"That's something in British Triathlon we're trying to work towards all the time.

"It's about learning how to deliver on a big stage. It's easy enough to win in your own backyard, but what these guys learn here is about the wonderful circus of an Olympic event."

© Sportsbeat 2015