As Tokyo begins to sneak up on the calendar, some of Australia’s top triathletes are preparing to put their best foot forward as they take to the field of play in Mooloolaba for the Australian Standard Distance Championships this weekend.
In a change to previous years at Mooloolaba, 2021 will see the event host the Australian Elite & U23 Standard Distance Championships, providing Australia’s aspiring Olympic triathletes with a quality opportunity on home soil to practice and execute the 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run that they will be expected to face in Tokyo.
With the weekend’s events marking one year since Australian triathletes first felt the impact of the pandemic, Olympian Ashleigh Gentle says that she feels lucky to have the chance to race once again in Mooloolaba.
“I’m pretty excited because it’s almost exactly 12 months since COVID really hit us in Australia, in the sense that our world stopped as athletes,” Gentle said.
“I’m really excited and grateful that we can be back racing 12 months later, and even though [Mooloolaba] is not a World Cup I’m really looking forward to it and know that there’s a lot of excitement around it.”
An experienced athlete over the Olympic distance, Gentle heads into Mooloolaba with her focus on the task at hand in what will be her first standard distance event in over a year.
“I really want to execute a good race in Mooloolaba. My training is coming together and I’m really enjoying it at the moment, so I just want to see if I can convert those good feelings in training to a race.”
Joining Gentle on Sunday's starting line will be a host of homegrown talent, including Kelly-Ann Perkins, Jaz Hedgeland, Kira Hedgeland, Matilda Offord and Charlotte Derbyshire. With Perkins, J Hedgeland, Offord and Derbyshire all coming off the back of podium performances at the Australian Elite & U23 Sprint Championships, Mooloolaba is shaping up to be an exciting affair.
In the Elite Men’s event, Jake Birtwhistle will make his highly anticipated return to domestic racing this weekend, with the Tasmanian lining up for his first elite event since his breakout 2019 season.
With his preparations for Tokyo well underway, Mooloolaba is set to provide Birtwhistle with a good opportunity to put his training into action over the Olympic distance.
Lining up alongside Birtwhistle will be 2016 Rio Olympian Aaron Royle in his second appearance at Mooloolaba in six months, after taking out the 2020 Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast title last September.
Gold Coast Performance Centre training partners Matt Hauser, Matt Roberts and Brandon Copeland will all be on the hunt for success in Mooloolaba this weekend after strong outings at the Australian Sprint and Mixed Relay Championships in Devonport last month.
While U23s Callum McClusky, Luke Bate, Jayden Schofield and Luke Schofield can all be expected to push their competitors to the limit as they continue to impress on the field of play.
The Mooloolaba Triathlon will take place on 13-14 March 2021, with the Australian Age Group, Elite and U23 Standard Distance Championships held on Sunday March 14. Keep up to date with all of the action at the Australian Championships over on the Triathlon Australia Instagram page.
Australian Elite & U23 Standard Distance Championships – Race start at 6:35am
Australian Age Group Standard Distance Championships – Race start at 6:45am
Photo Credit: Delly Carr