Thomas Bishop was celebrating the “best result of my life” and a first-ever ITU World Triathlon Series podium after he went toe to toe with five-time champion Javier Gomez.
The 25-year-old Briton, who agonisingly missed out on a place in the Olympics in Rio last summer, put that disappointment behind him with a superb showing in the 2017 season-opener, finishing just 13 seconds behind veteran Spaniard Gomez.
“I’m absolutely delighted. I’m in a bit of shock to be honest. It’s the best result I’ve had in my life so I’m really, really proud. I can’t quite believe it to be honest,” said Bishop, whose previous best WTS result was fifth place in Edmonton in September.
Bishop was up among an initial breakaway group of 19 riders after the opening 1,500km swim at Yas Marina on Saturday. He was pushing the pace throughout the second leg, the 40km cycle in and around Abu Dhabi’s iconic Formula One track.
Then, as most of the field waned on the final 10km run, the youngster found the energy to keep pace with the veteran.
At one point he even attempted to attack the Spaniard, a silver medallist at London 2012, before Gomez used as his experience to claim victory.
Bishop admitted he knew he had to go for it once he realised he was one of the race leaders.
“I worked as hard as I could and saved as much energy on the bike as I could,” he said.
“I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to be the first race of the season. I thought it might well come together but when I found myself with the front group I found a gap and thought ‘go as hard as I could’. I did what I could to keep the group going into the run.
“My back was pretty sore and I tried to warm my way into it and I had Gomez to pace me through and he’s kind of a good guy to get behind. That dragged me into second.”
Gomez was full of praise for his young opponent.
“I was surprised (by Tom),” he said. “He’s strong on the bike, he always is, but he ran very well and I have to congratulate him because he did amazingly well. Maybe I was a bit surprised by how strong he was so I saved a little bit for the last lap and luckily I got a little lead.”