Gold Coast pair Ashleigh Gentle and Brandon Copeland captured elusive medals at the ITU Mooloolaba World Cup on the Sunshine Coast.
Gentle had previously won silver (2017) and bronze (2015) at Mooloolaba but today she won the elusive gold at the sprint distance race that dealt up hot and humid conditions.
For Copeland it was his first ITU World Cup podium and a victory he is hoping to ignite an Olympic dream.
Gentle, who was part of the Mixed Relay team that won gold last weekend in Abu Dhabi, put together a composed race but it was former surf lifesaving pair Emma Jeffcoat and Kelly-Ann Perkins that lead the field out of the 750m surf swim and quickly formed a leading front group that also included Tamara Gorman (USA) and Natalie Van Coevorden.
The chase group make quick work of reeling the leaders in on the four lap 20km bike course to form one large group.
Gentle positioned herself in tenth wheel for most of the ride and was happy to wait to let her run leg do the talking in the final 5km of the race. Meanwhile Jeffcoat and Perkins worked hard at the front of the group in the bike leg. 2019 Devonport Oceania Champion Joanne Miller was also well placed in the pack along with Gold Coast based Jaz Hedgeland in her first race of the season.
“These races are so fast and furious and I was in a great position on the bike but if you’re not in a good position coming out of T2 and onto the run then you’re already a bit behind and this can easily happen in these really short races so I just tried to really build the run. I was definitely hurting towards the end but really happy I could keep it going until the end,” said Gentle.
Despite feeling a little flat going into today’s race Gentle raced away to take her maiden Mooloolaba World Cup victory from USA star Renee and Italian Angelica Olmo. Perkins ran home to finish eight, a good result for the Queenslander, Hedgeland 10th, Jeffcoat 11th, Van Coevorden 14th and Miller 28th.
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do to be honest. We’ve done a lot of base strength and aerobic type of work so we haven’t actually done that much race specific stuff so I’m kind of excited that I can produce that result off little specific work and I’m looking forward to knuckling down and seeing what I can do as the year progresses.”
“The test event for Tokyo is in August this year and my whole year revolves around that as we have to get a top three to get an automatic qualification for Triathlon Australia and that is my main goal. If I know I am going to the Olympics a year out that would be a dream come true so that’s the massive focus this year,” said Gentle.
Then it was the men’s race with Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk who trains with Australian coach Jonathan Hall who led the charge out of the swim with Brisbane’s Matthew Roberts the first of the Australian’s.
Copeland, Ryan Fisher, Ryan Bailie, Declan Wilson, Luke Burns, Callum McClusky where within striking distance on the long run into transition and a leading group of close to 40 formed on the bike.
With various lead changes over the four tough laps which claimed a few victims going through the roundabout, it was a charge of the light brigade that hit T2.
Mislawchuk was first to sprint out of transition quickly followed Sam Ward (NZL), German Valentin Wernz and Copeland.
On the second of three laps Copeland was focussed on closing the gap and slowly went about picking off those in front of him. On the final lap he had caught all but the flying Canadian Mislawchuk that was first to break the tape and Copeland that flew home to grab his first ITU World Cup podium.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with that one. It’s my second time here in the World Cup and last year I had a bit of a shocker, so I’d like to think I have learnt a lot from it and I was able to put that in practice this year and it sort of all came together for me,” said Copeland.
“That bike was pretty sketchy there at times, but I just tried to keep my position and steer clear of any accidents and thankfully worked my way through the front towards transition and had a good start to the run.
“The Olympics is always on everyone’s radar but that (today’s result) makes it a little bit more realistic for me and hopefully the selectors will take a bit of notice of that result.
“I had my whole family here cheering, a heap of my squad mates and my coach – you can’t have much better support than that, so it was awesome to have a great result in front of everyone.”
“It’s my best result by far. It’s my first World Cup podium – the best until today was a fifth place, so this year is all about trying to take the next step and be more consistent on the World level.”