Aaron Royle has picked up his Olympic Team nomination and run with it as hard as he could through the streets of Chicago today to again show the rest of the world he’s on his way.
The 25-year-old from Newcastle finished a close up seventh with Ryan Bailie 10th and Courtney Atkinson a pleasing 24th in a helter-skelter World Triathlon Series Grand Final.
The day was won by Spain's Mario Mola from his legendary countryman, Javier Gomez, who was crowned world series champion for a fifth time – but only after a duelling final kilometre that had the crowd on its feet.
After 10 races in the WTS it was “Mr Consistency” Bailie who came out the best placed of the Australians overall in 6th place on the WTS Rankings with Royle pushing into 10th in what was a vastly improved overall result for Australia’s men.
It was Royle who took the big boys on again and was second out of the swim and worked hard and skilfully on the bike to put himself in the best position for the run.
And as the race unfolded in and out of the corners around the picturesque Buckingham Fountain, his mate Bailie, also from Jamie Turner’s Wollongong Wizards worked his way into the race.
“I’m confident that I belong with the big boys now and I’m not afraid to take them on – I know my run has to improve but I also know I’m getting there,” said Royle.
“I wasn’t going to rest on my laurels after making the Olympic team, I was determined to make the most of it and I’m happy with that.”
Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage was equally impressed.
“ Aaron has taken the confidence that has come with his selection and he has really grabbed it and capitalised on what it has given him, the belief and the reward,” said Savage.
“He committed to that run in the Rio Test Event and he put himself out there and it got him on the team.
“He has a belief that he belongs with those boys and he wants to continue to put himself in a position where he can be competitive.
“He is not quite there yet; he surged at the 8km mark and then dropped off a bit but that’s OK, he is getting there and for him now the focus is August 18, 2016….for the rest of them, the battle continues.”
Bailie is one of those combatants alongside Atkinson and Under 23 world champion Jacob Birtwhistle who look to have the best of the opportunities to join Royle in Rio.
“I was further back in the swim than I thought but I was able to build the run until the six kilometre mark when I faded a bit but I’m happy with 10th…and happy with the season…my worst result was 14th,” said Bailie.
“I had no blow outs and I’m going back to Bunbury in WA for a break and then I’ll race Noosa and Nepean in front of my home crowd and sponsors before getting in a solid pre-season and I’ll look to improve again next season.
“Maybe I’ll be able to push into the top fives and get rid of those top 10s.”
And it would go along way to booking his place to Rio.
Charlotte’s out of the web and back in the race
And another of Turner’s group, Charlotte McShane put herself back in the selection race for Rio – although she will block that out of her mind.
Her 13th to the unbeatable training partner, the USA’s Gwen Jorgensen, has give her a huge confidence boost.
“I could not believe I was fourth out of the water and as soon as you on the bike you are up there and your whole mindset changes,” McShane said.
“You are there to win the race and not just be in the race although I was a little bit disappointed with my run.
“My running has really picked up over the last month. I guess I’m pretty lucky, I get to run with Gwen Jorgensen every day.
“That’s helped a lot but I was hoping to run better but overall I’m pretty happy.
“I started the year really well but then I struggled to get going again, obviously all my focus for the year was on the Rio test Event.
“But it was the worst race I’ve had in years and when that happens its pretty difficult.
“I actually had a couple of weeks off after that to try and get my head around it.
“I was devastated; I hadn’t really looked past Rio because that was my goal and I didn’t miss a single session and after that I thought I’ve got nothing to lose now and I had to really change my mindset and Jamie was really good with me and let me have my space.
“He didn’t interfere too much; I had to perform here so I could guarantee starts next year.
“If I didn’t make the automatic selection race next year then it’s all over. But I can walk away now and start to focus on next year…”
Emma Moffatt’s high hopes after Chicago…This is what the two-time Olympian had to say.
“Through the whole race from the swim, to the bike and then the run there was never any time to ease up….or have a breather….it was actually a good race to be a part of…..and I’m actually pretty happy with that overall…..the pace was on….and I think my altitude training really helped…I had been in Boulder doing altitude training before hand….I really enjoyed training up there and I really benefit from the altitude…..
(What’s Next?) …I’ll be back home to do the Noosa and Nepean Triathlons and then a bit of a break after that…and then start back up again and try and qualify for Rio…..none of us girls are selected yet so its back to square one….I feel I’ve been competitive with the other Aussie girls this season and I feel confident this year went better than last year….and hopefully I’m on the right track and I’ve found what works for me…..”
Be ready for a journey says Bernard Savage
Australia's Performance Director Bernard Savage was pleased with the overall performances, particularly after Edmonton 12 months ago.
"We've certainly come along way in 12 months since the poor performances from the Elites in Edmonton. We have made some really good shifts, especially in the men, " said Savage.
"There has been a faith the program has placed into these men and the time it takes for them to develop and it is starting to bear some fruit for us.
"They are only going to get better…the ones that will be successful are those who understand that this is going to be - a journey there is no quick fix here.
"They have to realise there’s a lot of dedication to get the results.
"And the girls are capable of being in that top - we were 12th, 13th and 14th…there's not a massive gap there.
"Just a few errors here and there that make all the difference but sound performances from those girls..not the highs of Stockholm but pleasing results."
With Royle the only automatic Olympic nomination selection process next year, with Triathlon Australia set to announce another automatic selection race.