The 30-year honour role reads like a who’s who of Australian and international triathlon so to have your name on the list of winners at the Devonport Triathlon is like adding your name to the sport’s royalty.
Men like Hall of Famers, four-time winner Stephen Foster and Brad “The Croc” Beven, Olympians Craig Walton, Simon Thompson, Brad Kahlefeldt, Courtney Atkinson and Brendan Sexton.
Women that include Hall of Famers Louise Bonham, the late Jackie Gallagher and Emma Carney, Olympians and Hall of Famers Michellie Jones and Loretta Harrop and Olympians Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffatt, Emma Jackson and Erin Densham.
Of past winners, two-time winner Courtney Atkinson (2008 and 2009), Peter Kerr (2013) and Brendan Sexton (2012) will again line up in this year’s field determined to keep the younger brigade at bay.
Devonport will couple as the OTU Oceania Championship and Australian Elite & U23 Championships and is the first major race of the Australian summer – the start of a busy year that will culminate in the 2016 Rio Olympic Test Event and the 2015 ITU World Championship grand final in Chicago.
A podium finish in Rio will earn automatic nomination for the Olympic Games – or if there is not a podium finisher then first Australian across the line inside the top 10 finish (4th-10th) will also give that person a nomination to the Australian Olympic Committee, based on the team Selection Policy.
In between will be nine WTS rounds starting in Abu Dhabi on March 6 and 7 and including a round on the Gold Coast on April 11-12 and a host of World Cup events including the Mooloolaba World Cup on March 14-15.
The lure of the Olympics ensures that the pace will be on “for young and old.”
And for 35-year-old Atkinson, Devonport will be the start of what could well be a history-making journey to a third Olympics – a feat not yet achieved in triathlon’s fledging Olympic life (2000-2012).
Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage knows it is an anticipated return to ITU racing for the 2008 and 2012 Olympian.
“It was only last month that Courtney announced his return to the ITU circuit and a crack at a third Olympics,” said Savage.
“It will be his first opportunity to have a real hit out and our first opportunity to have a look at him and see how he’s going.
“He did race in Singapore last year which he won so there is no doubt he is going ok but it will be interesting to get a check point this weekend and at Mooloolaba – a gauge for both him and us to see where he is at.”
Sexton, says Savage, can look back at his eighth place at the WTS Chicago race last year and take some solace that he put together a top class race over the 2015 World Championship grand final course.
“Although he had a disappointing end to 2014 Brendan can take a lot of confidence from his performance in Chicago. He is training very well and Saturday will provide a good hit out for him to start the season.
“Remembering that he will race in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time so he’ll be looking to a good performance that he can keep building on.”
While the Olympians will command a lot of attention a squadron of youngsters including 20-year-old Launceston local, ITU World Junior Championship silver medallist Jake Birtwhistle will be snapping at their heels.
“It is an exciting time for young Jake and a host of young contenders. He returns home (from his Wollongong training base) to race in front of his home crowd and while we are excited about his future it is also important to keep lid on the external expectations on him and not to rush him too much,” said Savage.
“We have to allow Jake to progress naturally and with his personal coach Jamie Turner there is a good team around him to allow him to do that as we look towards 2016, 2018 and 2020.”
And while the Elite women’s field is without defending champion Gillian Backhouse and Natalie Van Coevorden, Savage is also personally excited about the return of Wollongong Wizards emerging Under 23 Grace Musgrove, who is returning after 12 months away from racing after suffering two stress fractures.
“We have again put a good team around Grace, with coach Jamie Turner at the helm and the resources provided by physiotherapist Alex Price to build a stronger, more resilient athlete,” said Savage, who will have his eyes on a host of emerging girls.
“Jaz Hedgeland is another one of those girls. She suffered a broken wrist on the eve of the World Championships last year and she will be looking to be ion our Under 23 team for Chicago this year
“The best is yet to come for Jaz and her coach Dan Atkins on the Gold Coast has put a good program together for her and while it is a challenging climb for Jaz to develop and progress into higher level races, t’s a good plan and she is a very committed young athlete.”
Thursday 19th February:
6pm-8pm: 30th year Celebration of Devonport Triathlon at The Central Bar on Formby Road. RSVP to Georgia Whelan on 0437 563 034 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 20th February:
1pm: Media Conference (Front of Devonport Surf Life Saving Club) In attendance: Jake Birtwhistle (Aus), Brendon Sexton (Aus), Grace Musgrove (Aus), Jaz Hedgeland (Aus), Matt Hauser (Aus), Ryan Sissons (NZ), Sophie Corbidge (NZ) Ian Hanson to conduct media conference. email@example.com
Saturday 21st February:
Race 3 Australian Youth Triathlon Series, Super Sprint Distance - Swim 500m, Bike 16km, Run 4km
8am ITU Youth Male & Female (13-15yrs)
Australian Junior Triathlon Championships, Sprint Distance - Swim 750m, Bike 20km, Run 5km
9.00am ITU Junior Female (16-19yrs)
10.30am ITU Junior Male (16-19yrs)
OTU Oceania Elite & U23 Triathlon Championships & Australian Elite & U23 Triathlon Championships, Standard Distance – Swim 1500m, Bike 40km, Run 10km
12.00pm Elite/U23 Female
2.30pm Elite/U23 Male
4.30pm Presentations (approx)
Sunday 22nd February
8am Australian Junior Mixed Teams Triathlon Relay Championships, 3 x Swim 250m, Bike 4km, Run 1.2km
9am Race 5 Australian World Age Group Team Qualifying and Tasmanian Age Group Championships, Standard Distance – Swim 1500m, Bike 40km, Run 10km
11.30am Tri It (Community Triathlon) super sprint distance
12.30pm Tri Kids Triathlon
DEVONPORT TRIATHLON HONOUR ROLL
Year Male Female
2014 Aaron Royle (AUS) Gillian Backhouse (AUS)
2013 Peter Kerr (AUS) Jodie Stimpson (GBR)
2012 Brendan Sexton (AUS) Emma Jackson (AUS)
2011** Cameron Good (AUS) Ashleigh Gentle (AUS)
2010 Conducted as a local club race
2009* Courtney Atkinson (AUS) Annabel Luxford (AUS)
2008* Courtney Atkinson (AUS) Emma Moffatt (AUS)
2007* Craig Walton (AUS) Erin Densham (AUS)
2006* Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) Emma Snowsill (AUS)
2005* Simon Thompson (AUS) Emma Snowsill (AUS)
2004 Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) Liz Blatchford (GBR)
2003 Chris Hill (AUS) Barb Lindquist (USA)
2002 Martin Krnavek (CZE) Siri Lindley (USA)
2001 Chris Hill (AUS) Barb Lindquist(USA)
2000 Paul Amey (GBR) Loretta Harrop (AUS)
1999 Craig Walton (AUS) Joanne King (AUS)
1998 Andrew Johns (GBR) Emma Carney (AUS)
1997 Craig Walton (AUS) Emma Carney (AUS)
1996 Ben Bright (AUS) Jackie Gallagher (AUS)
1995 Ben Bright (AUS) Emma Carney (AUS)
1994 Brad Beven (AUS) Jacquelyn Hallam (AUS)
1993 Lach Vollmerhause (AUS) Bianca Van Woesik (AUS)
1992 Brad Beven (AUS) Bianca Van Woesik (AUS)
1991 Brad Beven (AUS) Michellie Jones (AUS)
1990 Stephen Foster (AUS) Liz Hepple (AUS)
1989 Spot Anderson (AUS) Louise Bonham (AUS)
1988 Stephen Foster (AUS) Carol Pickard (AUS)
1987 Stephen Foster (AUS) Carol Pickard (AUS)
1986 Stephen Foster (AUS) Kim Hicks (AUS)
1985 Rohan Phillps (AUS) Doris Trueman (AUS)