August 28, 2014: When Australia’s elite triathletes and Paratriathletes hit the tough Hawrelak Park course that will determine this year’s world triathlon champions over the next four days they will be competing for pride as well as podiums.
Australia’s Elite triathletes will tackle the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final here in Edmonton – starting with the Juniors and Age Sprint Championships (Friday), the Elite Women, Under 23 men and Elite Paratriathlon on Saturday and the Elite Men and Under 23 women on Sunday.
The Championships will wind up on Monday with the Open Paratriathlon, Age Group Standard World Championships and the Under 23/Juniors Mixed Teams Relay.
It is the final WTS race of the season for the Elites with the Series winners to be determined on points gathered through the year.
Australia has a long and proud history when it comes to ITU World Championships – such is the number of Australians shortlisted for the first inductees into the first ITU Triathlon Hall of Fame on Sunday night.
Ten Australians are among the 22 nominees, including two-time World Champion Michellie Jones who arrived into the Australian team camp here today and was immediately invited to address the Australian Team dinner.
She had earlier joined another Hall of Fame nominee, former World Champion Miles Stewart at a packed Australian Age Team breakfast of 300, where they addressed the athletes and presented the Elites with their race suits.
Bernard Savage, Micheille Jones, Stephen Moss,
Miles Stewart & David Ferrier
Come tomorrow it will be the current generation’s turn to show their wares in what will be four very competitive days of racing.
And as has been the case in recent years the Australian team has been bolstered by Emmas – Snowsill, Moffatt and Jackson.
But with the retirement this year of 2008 Olympic champion and three-time ITU World Champion Snowsill; the withdrawal through health issues of two-time champion Moffatt, it leaves the youngest of the Emmas – Jackson to fly the flag.
And at just 22, Jackson, an Olympian in London and former Under 23 world champion is ready to lead the Australian team into the battle that is the World Championships.
Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage is excited about what he is seeing in Jackson – now and for the future.
“I’ve just completed some statistics for the year and the average age of podium finishers in the WTS Women’s Series is 27,” said Savage.
“Jackson is 22 and while some may think she has been in the shadow of Snowsill and Moffatt up until now, she has returned from the disappointment of her fifth placing at the Commonwealth Games hungrier than ever.
Emma Jackson in Hamburg
“She has trained very, very well, under her coach Stephen Moss and prepared herself for a tilt at this race.
“She probably thinks she’s not quite there yet, not quite worthy compared to her namesakes but she needs to take some perspective and feel proud of what she has achieved for her age.
“She is performing exceptionally well and while getting on the podium is first and foremost in her mind the most exciting thing about Emma is what the future holds and not just for Rio in 2016, but Gold Coast in 2018 and Tokyo in 2020.”
Jackson is currently sitting in seventh place on the ITU World Rankings which sees Americans Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff on top, ahead of Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jodie Stimpson (GBR), fellow Brit Helen Jenkins, Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Kirsten Sweetland (Canada).
She will be joined on the start line on Saturday by her Glasgow team mate Ashleigh Gentle who has had a rewarding training camp in Oregon under coach Cliff English and 2013 Under 23s World Champion Charlottle McShane –who is having her first full season in the WTS.
In the men, Jackson’s fellow Commonwealth Games representative Aaron Royle (10th) is the highest ranked male in an exciting group of young men including his Wollongong Wizards and Glasgow team mate Ryan Bailie (12th), Dan Wilson (20th), Olympian Brendan Sexton (29th) and Cameron Good (33rd).
“I’m proud of the way these boys have raced this year,” said Savage.
Dan Wilson, Ryan Bailie & Aaron Royle- Auckland
“But realistically I know and they know that if we can get a couple in the top ten in this field with the Brownlee brothers, Gomez and Mola and a host of others this is a red hot men’s field.
“I doubt there is another Olympic sport where two boys like the Bownlees and Gomez who are so dominant.
“But our lads are not scared of getting in and racing them; they don’t fear them; they just have to stick to their own race strategies, their own plans and ensure they are up in that front pack in the swim, ride well and be ready to race off the bike.”
Savage is equally excited with his Junior and Under 23 athletes and says there no reason why the Australians can’t perform very well.
“Jack Birtwhistle in the juniors has come a long way in the space of 12 months; he is plying his trade well under Jamie Turner. He made a few mistakes in his World Championship debut last year in London and I’d like to think he’s learnt from those mistakes this year,” said Savage.
“In the under 23 women, ITU World U23 Duathlon champion and Elite silver medallist and Chengdu World Cup winner Gillian Backhouse has had an amazing year and she is in great shape, has done some great work alongside Emma Jackson and some here to Edmonton ready to race.
“She is a strong swim-biker who probably would not have thought 12 months ago she would be here racing right now she has come along in leaps and bounds.”
Saturday will see Australia’s Elite band of Paratriathletes, integrated into the Australian Elite Team will be out for a strong showing, despite the hilly course which will be a major test.
“It is very exciting for the team to come together after a great training camp in Red Deer; the hills will be tough for all of us but we have done everything we can to be as best prepared as we can,” said Yokohama WTS winner and PT2 leg amputee Brant Garvey.
“You can’t wipe the smiles off our faces – we are just so happy to be here and can’t wait to race.”
Women: Ashleigh Gentle (QLD) Emma Jackson (QLD) Charlotte McShane (NSW)
Men: Aaron Royle (NSW) Ryan Bailie (NSW) Cameron Good (NSW) Dan Wilson (QLD) Brendan Sexton (NSW)
Women: Gillian Backhouse (QLD) Kelly Ann Perkins (National Talent Academy QLD)
Men: Declan Wilson (National Talent Academy, ACT) Kenji Nener (QLD) Matthew Baker (NSW)
Women: Sophie Malowiecki (National Talent Academy QLD) Kira Hedgeland (National Talent Academy WA) Brittany Dutton (National Talent Academy QLD)
Men: Jacob Birtwhistle (National Talent Academy, TAS) Daniel Coleman (National Talent Academy, QLD) Calvin Quirk (National Talent Academy, QLD) Matthew Roberts (National Talent Academy, QLD)
Men: Nic Beveridge (QLD) PT1 Brant Garvey (WA) PT2 Justin Godfrey (VIC) PT3 Jack Swift (VIC) PT4 Jonathan Goerlach (ACT) PT5 and Jack Bigmore (guide)
Women: Claire McLean (WA) PT4 Sally Pilbeam (WA) PT3
Competition Schedule William Hawrelak Park
FRIDAY, August 29
9:30: Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championship 3pm: Junior Women’s World Triathlon Championship 4:15pm: Junior Men’s World Triathlon Championship
SATURDAY, August 30
8:45am: Under 23s Men’s Triathlon World Championship Noon: Elite Women’s Triathlon World Championship 3:30: Elite Paratriathlon World Championship
SUNDAY, August 31
12 Noon: Elite Men’s Triathlon World Championship 3:45pm: Elite Under 23 Women’s World Championship
MONDAY, September 1
7:30am: Age Group Standard Distance, Triathlon World Championship 2pm: Under 23/Junior Mixed Teams Relay World Championship ; 6pm: Closing Ceremonies and Final Banquet (Age Group Medal Ceremonies)