World Championship and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Matthew Hauser has finished off the triathlon domestic season with a commanding win in the Oceania Triathlon Cup sprint race in Port Douglas.
The 23-year-old from Hervey Bay, who trains out of the Gold Coast, broke away from the field on the 5km run, to assert his position among Australia’s new generation of elite males.
Hauser was second out of the 750m surf swim at Four Mile Beach behind Tokyo bound-New Zealander Taylor Reid.
And after the first of four laps on the 20km bike leg it was Reid, Hauser and hard working eventual third place getter, ACT’s Callum McClusky who were tucked safely inside a jam-packed group of 20 riders.
The run saw Hauser’s training partner Brandon Copeland (QLD) lead the field through the first lap of the 5km final leg, with Hauser, Reid and McClusky in hot pursuit.
But there was no catching Hauser, who has certainly emerged as one of Australia’s finest young talents, especially over the Sprint and Mixed Relay Super Sprint distances, where he was part of Australia’s gold medal winning 2017 World Championships and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay triumphs.
In ideal race conditions in the warm Far North Queensland winter, Hauser charged to the finish well ahead of Reid and McClusky.
“That was just about the perfect race for me,” said Hauser.
“The main aim was to enjoy that course up here in Far North Queensland, have fun, stay safe and finish off with a strong run at the finish.
“There was certainly a strong field with a lot of my training partners and it was so pleasing to get that result, especially in front of my family and friends.
“To be truthful the bike was a little nonchalant particularly after a strong start in the swim but it certainly came together towards the end and became a little bit more hectic leading into T2.
“I was able to get a strong transition with training partner Brandon Copeland and broke away on the second lap of the run.
“We’ve been preparing for this race up here in Cairns and Port Douglas and certainly the place to be.”
And while Hauser had things all his own way in the final stages of the Elite Men’s finish, it was a different story in the Elite Women’s race with former surf lifesaving ironwomen Kelly-Ann Perkins holding on to take out a thrilling sprint finish from fast-finishing fellow Queensland-based WA girl Kira Hedgeland with Kiwi Tokyo Olympians Ainsley Thorpe and Nicole Van Der Kaay fourth.
It capped off Perkins best season yet, testament to the dedication and perseverance over the past three years after a three-month lay-off with injury just 18 months after starting her triathlon career.
“It was a solid performance all round – I was comfortable in the swim – it was just about getting in a good position in the lead pack and there were some surges in that 20km bike leg,” said Perkins who has set her sights on next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“But that run leg was a lot closer than what I thought it was going to be with five of us going for it in the end over the last 200m.
“I had to fight all the way to the very last metre which turned out to be a real battle between us and the Kiwis.
“It is always nice to win a tight finish – I was definitely fading over that last 20m – I was just focusing my vision on the finish line and just trying to push myself to get there in the end.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s paratriathletes also had a hit out, lining up for valuable racing experience after a hit-and-miss 18 months of disjointed racing after Covid-19.
Defending 2016 Paralympic gold medallist in the vision impaired classification, Katie Kelly said she was “really happy with her last hit out before Tokyo after not backing off in training.
“We have gone in full load – a great opportunity top execute and practice before Tokyo – the swim was good in the open water – we practiced that last Saturday, a good fast bike, it was tough but I’m happy where I’m at,” said Kelly, after three-weeks of training in Cairns, who knows that her opponents this year have come a long way since 2016.
“The competition in my Vision Impaired class is outstanding – compared to five years ago the other girls where they are now is amazing – I’m going to have to have the race of my life to be up there.”
Prospective Tokyo Paralympian Lauren Parker said her main aim was to get a really good hit out .
“It was important to practice the little things because we haven’t had much race practice over the last 12 months,” said Parker, who has her sights set squarely on Tokyo.
“Practicing transitions and getting good starts and practicing my turns and getting some good power out there on the bike – I loved it and it was actually better than expected.”
Australia’s paratriathletes will now focus on a solid period of training in their countdown to Tokyo team announcement, training and a final race hit out on the Gold Coast.