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 > Home Page > About > Latest News > MOOLOOLABA THE START POINT FOR COURTNEY ATKINSON ON ROAD TO RIO

MOOLOOLABA THE START POINT FOR COURTNEY ATKINSON ON ROAD TO RIO


MOOLOOLABA THE START POINT FOR COURTNEY ATKINSON ON ROAD TO RIO

Come 1:30pm Saturday afternoon, two-time Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson admits he will be both “anxious and excited” when the gun goes to start this year’s ITU Triathlon Mooloolaba World Cup.

For the 36-year-old veteran of Beijing and London and a name synonymous with Australian triathlon across two decades it will be his official start point for a tilt at a third Olympic campaign in Rio next year.

But don’t expect any miracles from the Gold Coast father of two just yet, a man who knows the game inside out; knows what he has to do when he needs to do it but also understands it’s a long road back as he strives to become the first Australian triathlete to contest three Olympics.

COURTNEY ATKINSON 

Along with fellow Beijing and London Olympian, 2008 bronze medallist Emma Moffatt, Atkinson is the link to an era when some of his current day opponents were only just starting primary school.
For them, the Olympics in 2008 were about school projects, cutting and pasting pictures of the likes of Courtney Atkinson and Brad Kahlefeldt on large pieces of green and gold cardboard with the Olympic rings, the Aussie flag and the Olympic torch.

When he took off on the bike in the Oceania Championships in Devonport recently he joined six riders out of the swim and admits he honestly didn’t recognise any of them.

 Among those names - Jacob Birtwhistle, Declan Wilson, Kenji Nener and Matt Baker – are part of a current generation who will be dreaming of turning their Olympic aspirations from the school projects into reality – if not for 2016 then certainly for 2020 in Japan.

They will again rub shoulders with Atkinson – listed at No 68 in the 75 strong field - a man born and bred on ITU racing, who returns to the fold after retiring from the ITU circuit to pursue long course events.

“For me ITU racing is like turning up at the main stadium for a football match – you know you really are at a race,” said Atkinson.

“That feeling of performing in front of the audience, on the big stage, I’ve really missed that.”
But on the flip side of his return to the stadium on Saturday is his lack of match practice and he knows he will have a huge reality check when he tackles the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run sprint course.

 “This weekend is all about the skill acquisition, getting the little things right, handling the corners on the bike, being able to sprint early in the swim and then settling into your rhythm and staying out of trouble,” said Atkinson.

 “Saturday is the start point of my campaign and it will be like jumping in the deep end – I’m not looking at results – next year is a long way off when the final decisions are made for Rio."

 “I have to pace myself knowing I can’t back up week-in-week-out like I used to but knowing that when the time comes to perform then I can lift myself for that peak performance and trust my years of experience to help me get to where I want to go - I know my body is capable of doing it.”

 At the top end of the competitors list for Saturday is Mexico’s London Olympian Crisanto Grajales who, like Atkinson, loves to perform on a big stage.

 At 27 he too has had a long and distinguished career, which started out in 2003 when he contested his first ITU World Championships, as a junior in Queenstown.

 He has graduated to the Elite ITU ranks, earning two top ten finishes in the last two World Championship Grand Finals – finishing 8th in London in 2013 and 6th in Edmonton last year.

 And he is no stranger to racing in Australia, having finished 9th in Mooloolaba in 2011 and 19th in Sydney at the WTS race in 2012 to qualify for Mexico’s London Olympic team, where he was 28th.

 Crajales has started his campaign for Rio with a 19th place finish in the opening WTS race in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

 He will be joined by Spain’s rising star Vicente Hernandez who, along with teammates Mario Mola, Javier Gomez and Fernando Alarza, are emerging as a world force in triathlon.

 Hernandez, 24, was ninth in Abu Dhabi and comes to Mooloolaba to try and continue the Spanish domination that has seen both Mola and Gomez on top of the podium.

Throw in Australia’s second most experienced athlete in the field, Cameron Good and it will be a race that will be as intriguing for the spectators and commentators as it is “anxious and exciting” for Atkinson.

 Good has raced in the green and gold at the last two ITU World Championships in Edmonton (2014) and London 92013), finishing 21st on both occasions.

And a part of his preparation for 2015 and an assault on Rio selection,  Good spent several weeks in Africa at a Kenyan-based training camp.

He could well be the surprise packet when the whips are cracking on a five kilometre run home around the Mooloolaba course.

But given the kind of form that Birtwhistle, Wilson and Nener showed when they filled the Australian Championship podium over the Standard (Olympic) Distance in Devonport last month Mooloolaba may well see the boys sort out the men.

The Subaru Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival will be held from Friday 13 – Sunday 15 March 2015.
Individual and team entries will be available onsite, for the Mooloolaba Triathlon, on Friday and Saturday.

For event information visit www.mooloolabatri.com.au
 
What’s coming up…… 

RACE SCHEDULE

THURSDAY: Australian Youth Championships
 
FRIDAY: 2015 Sunshine Coast ITU World Paratriathlon 
 
SATURDAY: 2015 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
 
SUNDAY: 2015 OTU Triathlon Oceania Cup


GOLD COAST TO HOST ROUND THREE OF THE WTS:
The world’s best triathletes will descend on the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia), as they take on round three of the International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series, on Saturday 11 April 2015.


Mooloolaba (AUS) World Cup (March 14,15)
Sprint Distance (750m; 20km; 5km)

MEN
Jake Birtwhistle (TAS)
Cameron Good (NSW)
Declan Wilson (ACT)
Kenji Nener (WA)
Courtney Atkinson (QLD)
Matt Baker (NSW)
Peter Kerr (VIC)
Jesse Featonby  (ACT)

WOMEN

Ashleigh Gentle (QLD)
Gillian Backhouse (QLD)
Natalie Van Coervorden (NSW)
Jaz Hedgeland (WA)
Grace Musgrove (NSW)
Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (WA)
Ellie Salthouse (QLD)
 
New Plymouth (NZL) World Cup (March 21, 22)
Sprint Distance (750m; 20km; 5km)

MEN
Kenji Nener (WA)
Luke Willian (QLD)
Courtney Atkinson (QLD)
Drew Box (QLD)
Jesse Featonby (ACT)

WOMEN
Natalie Van Coervorden (NSW)
Grace Musgrove (NSW)
Erin Densham (NSW)
Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (WA)
Ellie Salthouse (QLD)

 
Auckland (NZL) World Triathlon Series (March 28, 29)
Standard Distance (1.5km; 40km; 10km)
 
MEN

Aaron Royle (NSW))
Ryan Bailie (WA)
Dan Wilson (QLD)
Jake Birtwhistle (TAS)
Brendan Sexton (NSW)
Cameron Good (NSW)

WOMEN

Emma Moffatt (QLD)
Ashleigh Gentle (QLD)
Emma Jackson (QLD)
Gillian Backhouse (QLD)
Erin Densham (NSW)
Charlotte McShane (NSW)