Olympic bronze medallists Erin Densham and Emma Moffatt are among four Olympians nominated for the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on August 2.
Triathlon Australia has today named a team of 12 – six men and six women to contest the Rio Test Event – the first step towards earning Olympic Team nomination to the Australian Olympic Team for 2016.
The first Australians to finish in the Top Ten in the Elite Male and Elite Female events in the Rio Test Event will earn automatic nomination to the Australian Olympic Committee.
There is a wealth of experience and exciting future talent in the 12 named by Triathlon Australia selectors after a busy domestic and international season, which has reached the halfway mark in the countdown to the ITU World Championships in Chicago in September.
Moffatt won bronze in Beijing in 2008 and Densham bronze in London 2012, upholding Australia’s Olympic medal record which saw Michellie Jones win silver in triathlon’s Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000 and Loretta Harrop’s follow up silver in Athens in 2004.
Moffatt recently finished with bronze in the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama in a confidence boosting podium behind the unstoppable American Gwen Jorgensen.
Her Gold Coast-based team mate Ashleigh Gentle earned her first WTS top three finish in the same race when she produced a spirited silver medal showing in what was a break through performance for the former ITU Junior World Champion.
She has well and truly earned her place among the top echelon of Australia’s brightest triathlon talent for the Test Event.
While 30-year-old Densham has slowly but surely crawled her way back from injury to put herself in the frame with encouraging results in recent ITU outings.
Joining dual Olympians Moffatt and Densham and Gentle on the Rio Test Event start line will be London 2012 Olympian Emma Jackson; 2013 ITU Under 23 World Champion Charlotte McShane and 2014 ITU Under 23 World Championship silver medallist Gillian Backhouse.
Moffatt, Jackson and Gentle made up the 2014 Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow.
The men’s team will feature dual Olympian Courtney Atkinson who has re-established himself on the ITU circuit throughout 2014 and 2015 and like Moffatt and Densham will be aiming at a record third Olympics.
No Australian triathlete has represented at three Olympic Games.
Atkinson will be joined in Rio by 2014 Commonwealth Games representatives Ryan Bailie, Aaron Royle and Dan Wilson alongside ITU rookie and 2014 ITU World Junior silver medallist Jake Birtwhistle and 2015 Chengdu World Cup gold medallist Ryan Fisher.
Bailie has had another consistent start to the ITU season and is sitting in sixth on the ITU Rankings followed by Dan Wilson (16th) and Birtwhistle, who has already shone in his debut WTS season, sitting in 22nd.
“The Rio Test Event is the starting point of our selection process and it is exciting to be able to name 12 worthy athletes who are all very much in the hunt for next year,” said Triathlon Australia’s National Performance Director, Bernard Savage.
“Those athletes named for the Test event have certainly put their hands up and deserve to have the first shot at the Olympic nomination.
“They have all shown they are on track this season while some of our youngsters like Jake Birtwhistle and Ryan Fisher have put their hands up with some eye-catching performances to warrant their selection.
“They have all set their season goals for this event and the UTU World Championships in Chicago in September.
“For the likes of Moffatt, Densham and Atkinson they have all been to two Olympics and are shooting for a third Games; Jackson was in London, while the other eight are seeking selection on their first Olympic Team.
“It has been an encouraging start to the season for all of them and the ball is now very much in their court.”