A 14-strong Australian Triathlon Team are ready to represent their country on the world stage in Birmingham, hoping to continue their strong 2022 form, against the Commonwealth’s best.
Three returning Commonwealth Games Australia alumni, including two defending gold medallists, will be joined by three athletes on debut in Australia’s triathlon squad for this Friday's Sprint Triathlon action.
Gold Coast 2018 gold medallists Jake Birtwhistle and Matt Hauser will be joined by pocket rocket Charlotte McShane to spearhead the team which is looking to build on its mixed relay dominance. With Brandon Copeland, Natalie Van Coevorden and Sophie Linn, all making their Commonwealth Games debut.
Jake Birtwhistle, Launceston’s Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist, is excited to be racing at his second Commonwealth Games in the green and gold.
“In many ways it feels like the Gold Coast Games has only just passed, after we missed so much racing in the last couple of years. It’s still such a fresh memory,” he said when selected to the Australian Team.
“Being named in an Australian team is never something to take for granted, but the feeling can get hidden behind all the hard work and even bigger goals.
“It feels like another step in the journey towards those goals, but it is nice to take a step back and appreciate how special it actually is to represent Australia.”
Eight team members will make up the Paratriathlon team when the vision-impaired triathlon classification makes its Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham on Sunday, July 31st.
Australia is represented by three male Team Members and one female Team Member, the foursome including their guides, are already enjoying the training facilities in the U.K.
The classification for Birmingham includes athletes who are totally blind (B1), severe partially sighted (B2) and less severe partially sighted (B3).
The four Team Members include Queensland’s 52-year-old triple Paralympian Gerrard Gosens OAM, Tokyo Paralympic teammates 31-year-old Sam Harding (athletics) from the ACT and 39-year-old Jonathan Goerlach (NSW), and fellow 39-year-old Tasmanian Erica Burleigh.
They will be joined by their guides Hayden Armstrong (Gosens), Luke Harvey (Harding), David Mainwaring (Goerlach) and Felicity Cradick (Burleigh).
After Paratriathlon made its Commonwealth Games debut with the PTWC (wheelchair) classification at the Gold Coast 2018 Games, it is the PTVI (vision impaired) athletes who have been afforded the opportunity to make their Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham.
For Gosens, congenitally blind from birth, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is another chapter in his incredible story of representing Australia on the world stage.
As a man that has climbed Mt Everest, competed in three Paralympic Games, run the 2000km from Cairns to Brisbane five times as well as wooing audiences on Channel 7’s Dancing with the Stars, Gosens had one more item on his bucket list – to represent his country at the Commonwealth Games.
“A totally blind athlete represents the whole vision of belief in Australia and the reason I say that is people say, ‘I can look up and see the Australian flag and I can see the green and gold tracksuit’ but I have never seen them,” reflected Gosens.
“I don’t need to see the Australian flag to feel what it’s like to be an Australian and I don’t need to see the colours of green and gold to believe in what I believe in to represent my country.
“It’s a feeling about being Australian; it’s a feeling about getting out there and giving it your all.
“You don’t have to be able to see them; you don’t have to have vision to have the belief on the inside into what it means to represent your country on the outside.”
The mixed relay will also be one to watch with Australia recently claiming an iconic silver and placing them back on the Hamburg Podium at the World Triathlon Championships series last month. Mixed relay action will take place on Sunday, July 31st.
Triathlon will be on the program for the fifth time since debuting in Manchester in 2002 after it appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1990 Games in Auckland.
The individual triathlon events on Friday, July 29th will be the first medals decided of the Commonwealth Games. The triathlon schedule will be held throughout Sutton Park and England will be the team for the Australian beat in Birmingham, boasting Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown.
The pair was also part of the British squad that won gold in the mixed team relay in Tokyo.
Australians will be able to watch the Triathlon and Paratriathlon athletes in action, live, free and in HD on 7plus. Visit the dedicated Triathlon and Paratriathlon hub here.
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