The pain of elite sporting failure was laid bare when Bill Chaffey spoke of a “silly” mistake that will lead to years of “kicking” himself, after crashing in the paratriathlon on the Gold Coast on Saturday morning but still claiming bronze.
The Tamworth-born five-time world champion, a former McCarthy Catholic College student, smashed his hand cycle into a race barrier. He had led the race after the swim leg, but the heavy crash cost him valuable seconds and then he had to deal with a damaged bike, including a broken gear cable that meant he completed the last two laps in the one gear.
He finished one minute and 34 seconds behind gold medallist Joe Townsend of England, with Australian Nic Beveridge second.
The fact that Chaffey not only finished the race but came third, despite parts breaking off his hand cycle including a pedal handle, was labelled an incredible display of internal fortitude.
However, he didn’t want to absorb that platitude post-race. The 42-year-old, a police officer in the Tweed, was too disappointed by failing to win gold, after finishing fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Speaking to host broadcaster Channel 7, he said he “stuffed up” while going typically “hard”. “It was just a cluster of mistakes. It was my fault,” he said. “It was silly racing. I’m gonna be kicking myself for years to come.
“You always get people [who are] good-hearted and they mean well. They want to say that you did well and all that sort of stuff. But only an athlete knows. You’re not going out there to try and win a bronze medal – I was going out to try and win gold.
“I made the mistake, I stuffed up. I’m really dirty about that.”