8 Apr 2023
4 min read
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Linn was crowned Arena Games world champion as the 28-year-old Aussie backed up her second place in Montreal with third in London to take top spot in the overall rankings.
And while Potter wasn’t able to defend her 2022 world title because she hadn’t competed in either of the two earlier rounds, she was determined to put on a show in front of a home crowd – taking an emphatic victory ahead of France’s Cassandre Beaugrand.
The Netherland’s Rani Skrabanja came through the morning repechage to finish a surprise second in the overall standings, with Montreal winner Gina Sereno in third.
The three stages of action took place in front of a packed Aquatics Centre, with the crowd determined to urge the best out of some of the most talented female athletes in the sport including home favourites Potter and Olivia Mathias, and 15-year-old Hungarian prodigy Fanni Szalai, who had progressed through the repechage to make the 10-woman final.
Here’s how the action went down…
Beaugrand had set a new Arena Games swim record of 2:10 in the previous day’s heats and opened up a body length’s lead on the field within the first 50m.
The French triathlete who has moved her training base to Loughborough in the UK, continued to pull away throughout the four lengths in the iconic Aquatics Centre – the home to the 2012 Olympic Games – emerging from the water in 2:11.
Mathias, who finished second in the Swiss leg of the series to give her a shot at the overall title, quickly had the pedals turning, pushing 4.5w/kg of power as she surged alongside Beaugrand.
But there was less than 2sec to Potter, Linn, Zsanett Bragmeyer and Emma Jackson as the first six built an early advantage before heading to the treadmills for the final 1km to complete the first stage.
Potter, who hadn’t been out of the top two in five Arena Games starts, signalled her intent by opening a 10sec gap on Beaugrand, with Skrabanja moving into third place another 4sec back. Linn was in fourth and a strong run by 15-year-old Szalai moved her up to fifth.
The format was flipped for the second stage of the final, starting with a 1km run, followed by the bike and finishing in the pool.
Beuagrand started fastest, marked by Potter, as Sereno seized the opportunity to claw back some time on the rest of the field and Skrabanja and Szalai backed up their showing on Stage 1 with more impressive footspeed.
Beaugrand retained her lead on the Zwift Crit City 4km bike course with a view to extinguishing Potter’s advantage from Stage 1 by the time they’d completed the 200m swim.
But behind the front two the world championship charge was on, as Linn moved into third, knowing that with Beaugrand and Potter ineligible, it would be enough to guarantee her the world title.
Potter swimming in the central lane next to Beaugrand hung on doggedly so that when they made the touch she retained an 7sec advantage into the final stage.
The final stage reverted to the traditional swim-bike-run format in a pursuit style and showing their dominance Potter and Beaugrand were nearly at the far wall by the time Linn dived from poolside.
Potter was in no mood to relinquish her advantage and the gap held as they tackled the 4km bike leg for a final time. Linn was cementing the final podium spot and top spot overall, as Skrabanja continued to deliver an eye-catching performance in fourth.
Potter was in full flow on the final 1km run, pulling away to extend her winning advantage by more than 22sec from Beaugrand as Linn was third from Skrabanja and Jackson. It also gave Potter a fourth victory in six Arena Games appearances, marking her out as the most successful triathlete in the competition’s short history.
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