Alex Yee vs. Hayden Wilde is becoming a rivalry to savour, and the latest instalment will be one of THE triathlon highlights at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The pair both standing on the podium at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the summer of 2021 showed they were both not just stars of tomorrow, they had arrived.
With the likes of Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt moving up to the full distance in 2022, the way was clear for Yee and Wilde to make this year their own.
They have done just that so far, already producing some terrific battles and one very controversial moment.
Ahead of their next meeting in the men’s elite race in Birmingham on Friday July 29, here is the story of their rivalry so far.
Yee vs Wilde results so far
WTCS Leeds 2021: Yee announces his arrival on the world stage with a brilliant display to win and confirm his place the Tokyo Olympics. For Wilde though a fifth-place finish was terrific in his first international race in 15 months due to COVID lockdowns. It would stand the Kiwi in good stead for Japan just a few weeks later.
Olympic Games, Tokyo 2021: Neither man would prove a match for that epic, lung-bursting run to glory produced by the aforementioned Blummenfelt in the brutal Tokyo heat. But they still produced absolutely stellar performances with Yee claiming a fantastic silver medal and Wilde a superb bronze.
Super League Triathlon London 2021: A disappointing day for homecoming hero Yee after that Tokyo success, as he finished off the podium. Wilde though was at the peak of his powers, sprinting to a glorious victory to kick off the 2021 Championship Series in style.
Super League Triathlon Jersey 2021: Yee gained a measure of revenge for London with a brilliant performance to pip fellow Brit Jonny Brownlee after an epic sprint finish. Wilde was hardly embarrassed though, finishing just five seconds further back in third.
Super League Triathlon Malibu 2021: A suitably spectacular end to the 2021 Championship Series as Yee produced another sensational sprint finish to pip Belgium’s Marten Van Riel for the win in California. It also meant he beat Wilde (just a few seconds back in fourth) to the overall Championship title – by 59 points to 54. Epic stuff.
Arena Games Singapore 2022: If Yee vs Wilde in 2021 had been epic, 2022 started in style as Wilde beat his great rival to snatch the win on the day in Singapore. It was Yee though – as he had in SLT – who won the overall Championship title.
WTCS Yokohama 2022: The first big WTCS meeting of the year, and a classic confrontation. The pair were left out in front on the run through the Japanese streets, and they produced a memorable moment of sportsmanship as Yee passed a drinks bottle to his rival, who took a swig and then patted him on the back. Yee it was who went on to win the sprint for victory, in a race which boded well for an epic season.
WTCS Leeds 2022: Controversy galore as Yee and Great Britain team-mate Jonny Brownlee crashed out of the eagerly-awaited race very early in the bike leg. Wilde meanwhile would go on to claim a superb victory, before admitting he had been partly to blame for the crash which took out the two Brits. Yee would miss the following day’s Mixed Relay, while for Brownlee the results would be far more significant. The injuries sustained would eventually cause him to be ruled out of the Commonwealth Games.
WTCS Montreal 2022: After the pain of Leeds it was a glorious moment for Yee as he outsprinted Wilde to claim a famous victory in the Canadian city. Wilde though lost absolutely nothing in defeat, having recovered from a mechanical on the bike to bridge back up to the lead pack for the run. Fantastic racing.
These are of course the more recent meetings between the pair – if you want to look just a little further back in history, how about Wilde and Yee locking horns on the final leg of the U23 Relay in Lausanne in 2019 with the New Zealander claiming the win for his team.
Alex Yee career so far
Alex Yee, born in Lewisham on February 18, 1998, is one of THE bright young things of triathlon today.
The brilliant talent was a really strong runner from a young age (it remains a huge strength), recording times as fast as Olympic great Mo Farah. He would eventually move north to study for a University degree in Leeds, Yorkshire – home of course to a certain Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.
It has not just been a run to glory for Alex since he took up triathlon – there have been incredible tough moments too. None tougher than the horrific bike crash he suffered during the 2017 ITU World Cup in Cagliari.
Yee would suffer broken ribs, vertebrae and a punctured lung, spending four weeks in hospital as a result.
Alex, who stands 5ft 10 ins (1.77m) tall, would come back stronger though, with his resolve to be great fortified more than ever.
His arrival on the world stage was truly announced in Leeds in 2021, as he claimed his Olympic spot while Alistair Brownlee bowed out of short-course racing. It was in some ways the passing of the torch.
Yee would confirm the massive potential he had showed with that individual silver in Tokyo, before claiming an incredible gold in the Mixed Relay alongside Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jonny Brownlee.
Super League Triathlon Championship glory followed before 2021 finished, as did a massive New Year’s Honour in the shape of an MBE.
Alex credits his father Ron Yee as one of the key reasons for his introduction to the sport. Ron, an architect and university lecturer, himself competed in some duathlon races and Alex used to go with him to races when he was six or seven years old.
A few years later, when Crystal Palace Triathletes held their first ever junior session, Ron took young Alex along and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Alex spoke extensively to our own John Levison ahead of his glory week in Tokyo in 2021, about the early years and a road which would take him to Olympic gold.
Hayden Wilde career so far
Hayden Wilde was born in Taupo, New Zealand on September 1, 1997. Like his great rival Yee he is 24 years of age and with a massive future ahead of him.
Wilde, who stands 5ft 9ins tall (1.75m), possessed a keen interest in sport on two feet, two wheels and on water from an early age. At 16 he became the youngest winner of the two-day Coast to Coast – 243km of running, cycling and kayaking.
After watching a certain Alistair Brownlee claim his second Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, the youthful Hayden decided to concentrate on triathlon. The results have been spectacular.
Wilde moved through the ITU/World Triathlon ranks but the 15-month international hiatus caused by COVID meant that his explosion to world prominence in the summer of 2021 came as a revelation. That fifth in Leeds was just the warm-up for a brilliant bronze in Tokyo.
As well as all the triathlon titles, Yee has continued to prove his versatility by claiming victory at the XTERRA World Championship (off-road triathlon) in Maui in late 2021. He still came away claiming he had “unfinished business” after the cancellation of the swim reduced the event to a duathlon.
Wilde’s brilliance and potential for future greatness has not gone at all unnoticed in important quarters. The young Kiwi is a Red Bull athlete, and associated with a brand which doesn’t seem to get it wrong very often.