YOUTH Olympic Games gold medallist Brittany Dutton and the stars of the Devonport dead-heat Matt Roberts and Luke Willian will spearhead a six-strong Australian Junior Triathlon team to this year’s ITU World Championships in Chicago in September.
Dutton, Roberts and Willian lead an all-Queensland team of four males and two females into one of the world’s great sporting cities.
The Juniors are the first section announced today by Triathlon Australia with the Elite and Under 23 males and females to be finalised as the ITU World Triathlon Series continues to unfold over the coming months.
The 2014-15 season has seen some willing contests in the Australian Junior Triathlon Series and Australia will once again field a select team capable of earning podium berths in both the men’ and the women’s categories.
The team, all members of Triathlon Australia’s National Talent Academy is:
- Brittany DUTTON (18yrs, Brisbane, QLD). Coach: Josh White
- Sophie MALOWIECKI (18yrs, Brisbane, QLD). Coach: Stephen Moss
- Matthew HAUSER (17yrs, Hervey Bay, QLD). Coach: Brian Harrington
- Matthew ROBERTS (19yrs, Brisbane, QLD). Coach Stephen Moss
- Luke WILLIAN (19yrs, Brisbane, QLD). Coach: Warwick Dalziel
- Calvin QUIRK (18yrs, Gold Coast, QLD) –(Travelling Reserve.) Coach: Dan Atkins.
Triathlon Australia’s National Manager High Performance Pathways, Craig Redman said he was excited with the prospects and calibre of the team.
“It’s a very exciting junior team and this opportunity gives them the chance to demonstrate the competency and skill sets needed to progress to the top of the sport,” said Redman.
“In the short term this team will be very competitive in Chicago, especially on the back of the performances last year where Jake Birtwhistle and Calvin Quirk won silver and bronze medals in Edmonton and Brittany Dutton was sixth.
“There is no reason whey these athletes can’t replicate previous performances.
“We have set very high standards for our developing athletes who have to meet performance and racing standards throughout our domestic season.
“It’s going to be super competitive over the next couple of years – a case of onward and upward for the current athletes.
“With the likes of Jake, Jaz Hedgeland and Dan Coleman graduating from Juniors to under 23s there is a strong, steady progression.
“And with the junior girls, they all have another year as juniors to continue to develop their skill sets alongside an exciting group of young girls coming through.
“The key thing is for these athletes is to learn the demands of competition – to make the correct decisions under pressure at events like the Super Race Weekend on the Gold Coast.
“Setting them up on not only decision making but their racing skills, especially bike handling.
‘While the bike course will be flat in Chicago it will be a very technical course with six U turns per lap.
“You will see massive power spikes on every lap and acceleration out of those turns and to prepare these guys for that will be one of our key priorities.”
A number of the athletes will be based in Europe, either in France at Aix Les Bains or in Vitoria in Spain.
They will also have race opportunities in the Oceania Cup in Fiji before a training camp on the Gold Coast in July; an Asian Cup in Osaka and a Pan American Junior race in Edmonton before heading to Chicago.
The women’s team of Dutton and three-time ITU World Championship representative Sophie Malowiecki will contest the Chicago World Championships without reigning Australian Junior Series champion, Kira Hedgeland from WA.
The 17-year-old Hedgeland was unavailable for selection, deciding to concentrate on her final year 12 studies in Perth.
Dutton, who has continued to fight back from injuries in her short but successful career, defeated Hedgeland to claim the Australian Championship in a spirited dash to the finish in Devonport in February to seal her place on the team.
Last year Dutton, under coach Josh White, produced the race of her life to take the YOG gold in Nanjing – Australia’s first gold medal of the Games.
She then joined the Australian team in Edmonton for her ITU World Championship debut where she won a silver medal in the Junior/Under 23s Mixed Teams Relay with Jake Birtwhistle, Gillian Backhouse and Matt Baker after a spirited sixth place finish in the individual World Championship.
Malowiecki will out to atone for some unfinished business after an unfortunate bike crash ended her World Championship hopes last year in Edmonton.
Devonport was also the scene of the dramatic final lunge dead-heat in the Australian Junior Men’s Championship between Roberts and Willian.
The timing system, finish photo and the judges could not split the pair as they charged at the line and were left spread-eagled on the ground.
Willian makes his return to the Australian team after two years of toil under coach Warwick Dalziel, following a race mishap at the 2013 Super Sprint weekend on the Gold Coast left him with a badly cut foot.
Roberts made his Australian debut in last year’s World Championships, finishing 25th in the race that saw Birtwhistle finish with the silver medal and Calvin Quirk the bronze.
The pair will be joined by super-talented Hervey Bay youngster Matt Hauser, who started the 2014-15 season with a bang at the Super Sprint Weekend on the Gold Coast in December, adding the Oceania Championship at Penrith in January.
Hauser was to join Dutton in last year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing only to be forced out of the team after suffering a broken collarbone in a training accident.
Chicago will see Hauser make his debut in the green and gold World Championship suit.
Such is the high standard of qualification and the competition for spots, especially in the men that Quirk only filled the final spot on the team as the travelling reserve.
Chicago is steeped in triathlon tradition having played host to one of the world’s oldest international triathlons.
The venue for the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago is located within the vibrant, urban landscape of downtown Chicago in Grant Park.
The event will be contested over five days along the shores of Lake Michigan in front of some of Chicago’s greatest landmarks before finishing on the blue carpet at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park - considered to be the front door of the city.
The Junior athletes are scheduled to race on September 17 and will begin their race in Monroe Harbour at Queen’s Landing with a 750m swim, heading south along the sea wall and exiting at the south end of the harbour near the Field Museum.
The transition will be set up at Arvey Field in Grant Park with the 20km bike over two 10km laps before the final 5km run leg with a 2.9km opening lap, followed by a 2.1km final lap for the run home to Buckingham Fountain.