All eyes will be on Mooloolaba this Saturday, with a stacked field of Olympic hopefuls set to meet on the Sunshine Coast to contest the first World Cup of the season.
Gifted the honours of opening the 2020 international racing season, world-class triathletes from across the globe will descend on Mooloolaba this weekend to chase valuable Olympic qualification points ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Among those vying for Olympic qualification points on Saturday will be 2018 Mooloolaba World Cup winner, Emma Jeffcoat.
After a string of succesess in 2019 including a win at the Tiszaujvaros World Cup and Mixed Relay World Series gold in Abu Dhabi, Jeffcoat said that she is hoping to carry her momentum into the Olympic year with a strong all-round performance in Mooloolaba.
“2020 is an exciting year as the Olympic Games only comes around every four years,” Jeffcoat said.
“It’s my main goal for this year to qualify onto our Australian team, and I’m working hard to put my best foot forward & show what I’m capable of in these upcoming races.”
Reflecting on her 2018 win, Jeffcoat said that Mooloolaba holds a special place in the racing calendar for her.
“Mooloolaba World Cup 2018 will forever be my favourite race I think.”
“I had both my parents there to support me alongside my coach & a handful of friends, the surf was up, sun was out and I ran away for my first World Cup podium and the win.”
“It’s hard to top that feeling, and I always look forward to coming back & getting out there in front of an awesome Aussie home crowd.”
“Mooloolaba is a tough course with unique features like the surf and hills. I can’t wait to take it on again next weekend!”
Joining Jeffcoat on the starting line will be fellow Mooloolaba winner, Ashleigh Gentle. In her first racing appearance on the Sunshine Coast since her record-breaking Noosa Triathlon win last year, Gentle will be hoping to find some of that Sunny Coast magic as she chases her second consecutive Mooloolaba World Cup win.
Sister act Jaz and Kira Hedgeland will bring an element of friendly family rivalry to the competition on Saturday, with the sisters facing the unique opportunity to race against one another on home soil.
Gillian Backhouse, Tamsyn Moana-Veale and Charlotte McShane will also be looking to make their mark in Mooloolaba after strong results at the 2020 Devonport OTU Oceania Cup and Oceania Championships earlier this month.
Natalie Van Coevorden, Kelly-Ann Perkins and Danielle De Francesco are also to set to line-up in Mooloolaba come Saturday.
Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jessica Learmonth and Vicky Holland are set to get their 2020 seasons underway on the Sunshine Coast, providing a strong challenge for the Australians. While Joanna Brown (CAN), Kirsten Kasper (USA), Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) and Ainsley Thorpe (NZL) will also be ones to watch as they look to get their 2020 seasons off with a bang.
It’ll be an equally challenging battle for the Aussies in the Elite Men’s field, with a number of Mooloolaba medallists lining up to contest the 2020 title.
2017 Mooloolaba World Cup winner, Luke Willian will lead the charge for the Australian Men on the Sunshine Coast.
Following a stellar 2019 that included a World Cup win in New Plymouth and a Top 10 World Triathlon Series finish in Yokohama, Willian already looks set to keep the momentum rolling into his 2020 season, taking home silver in Devonport earlier this month.
He’ll be joined by Mooloolaba alum Matt Hauser and Brandon Copeland, as well as 2016 Rio Olympian Ryan Bailie as they continue their hunt for key Olympic qualification points in Mooloolaba.
Marcel Walkington will be looking to secure another strong early season result after taking home his first win of the year in Devonport, with Matt Roberts, Callum McClusky, Lorcan Redmond and Luke Burns rounding out the Australian contingent in Mooloolaba.
A cluster of World Triathlon Series stars are also set to get their seasons underway in Mooloolaba with Trans-Tasman rivals Hayden Wilde, Sam Ward, Tayler Reid all preparing to make the journey to Mooloolaba for their first international appearance of the season. Alex Yee (GBR), Thomas Bishop (GBR) and Seth Rider (USA) also feature among the internationals headed to Mooloolaba.
2020 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
Photo Credit: Janos Schmidt