Six Australians will don the green and gold in Yokohama this Saturday, as the international season gets underway with the World Triathlon Championship Series and World Triathlon Para Series kicking off in Yokohama, Japan.
With travel highly restrictive alongside other global factors, only a limited number of Australians have chosen to make the journey to Yokohama.
The first edition of the revamped World Triathlon Championship Series will see four Aussies go head-to-head with international rivals in the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
Jake Birtwhistle is just one of the Australians who has chosen to head north, with Saturday’s race his first appearance on the international circuit since his 2019 breakout season that saw him collect two World Triathlon Series titles.
After spending much of 2020 and early 2021 building a strong training base in his hometown of Launceston, the Tasmanian is looking forward to returning to international racing.
“I’m really grateful that we have the opportunity to race in Yokohama this weekend,” Birtwhistle said.
“It’s been a long time since my last international race, so I’m just happy to be back. I’ve spent the past year just focusing on building that strong training base at home in Australia.”
“I’m looking forward to putting my training to the test in Yokohama this weekend. It’s a great opportunity to see where my training is at, but more important to simply be back racing this top level competition again ahead of Tokyo in a few months.”
Joining him in the Elite Men’s field is Aaron Royle, who heads to Yokohama off the back of a solid season of domestic racing in Australia.
They’ll be facing strong competition, with training partners and podium regulars Vincent Luis (FRA), Jelle Geens (BEL), and Marten Van Riel (BEL) all headed to Yokohama. 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Henri Schoeman (RSA), two-time Olympic medallist Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and 2019 World Triathlon Grand Final winner Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) also joining the strong international line up.
In the Elite Women’s field, Natalie Van Coevorden will be looking to build on her 2020 after a solid season of training and racing in Europe.
She’ll be joined by Emma Jackson, who arrives in Yokohama after a significant stint focusing on training and racing at home in Australia.
A strong American contingent will front up in Yokohama, with 2019 World Champion Katie Zaferes, Summer Rappaport and Taylor Spivey all set to provide some heated competition. Joining them on the starting line will be regular performers Non Stanford (GBR), Sophie Coldwell (GBR), Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) and Maya Kingma (NED).
While in the World Triathlon Para Series, Clint Pickin (Men’s PTS4) and Katie Kelly (Women’s PTVI) will be on the hunt for strong performances in Yokohama as they search for valuable Paralympic qualification points to secure their places in Tokyo later this year.
After strong domestic seasons from both athletes culminating in National titles at the 2021 Devonport Triathlon, the pair will be looking to perform on the international stage as they take on the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run in their respective classes.
Pickin will tough it out against some of the top PTS4 athletes in Yokohama, including the #1 ranked Alexis Hanquinquant (FRA), #3 ranked Hideki Uda (JPN) and the #5 ranked Mikhail Kolmakov (RUS).
Kelly and her Guide Briarna Silk will head into Saturday as the highest ranked athletes in the Women’s PTVI class, when they face Vita Oleksiuk (UKR), Annouck Curzillat (FRA), and Atsuko Maruo (JPN).
The World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) and World Triathlon Para Series (WTPS) Yokohama will be held on Saturday 15 May. You can follow all of the action live on triathlonlive.tv.
World Triathlon Para Series Yokohama
Race Start: Saturday May 15 06:50 LOCAL | 07:50 AEST
Clint Pickin (Men’s PTS4)
Katie Kelly (Women’s PTVI)
World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama
Race Start: Saturday May 15 10:16 LOCAL | 11:16 AEST
Natalie Van Coevorden
Race Start: Saturday May 15 13:06 LOCAL | 14:06 AEST
Photo credit: Delly Carr