Olympian-in-waiting Aaron Royle and two dual Olympians in the hunt for an historic third Games were very much in the spot light over the weekend as the Australian season hotted up and as the ITU season wound up in Korea.
Twenty-five-year-old Royle showed why he is Australia’s number one choice for Rio as 2015 comes to a close, recording a commanding victory in the Nepean Triathlon over ITU Under 23 world champion Jake Birtwhistle and Ryan Fisher.
It was Royle’s third straight Nepean victory and it sets himself up for a red-hot go to defend his Noosa Triathlon crown this weekend. (See fields and schedule attached).
The Nepean women’s race saw Beijing and London Olympian Emma Moffatt taste victory for the second time over Commonwealth Games team mate Ashleigh Gentle with Natalie Van Coevorden in third.
While in Tongyeong, Korea, Moffatt’s Beijing and London team mate Courtney Atkinson showed why he will very much be in the selection frame come the Gold Coast WTS round next April 9,10 with a close up bronze medal in the final ITU World Cup race of the year over the Standard distance.
Atkinson bustled his way to the front of the run and looked strong but didn’t count on the flying Spaniard Castro Fajardo in the final stages and a motivated eventual winner, Brit Matt Sharp who was not going to let this one get away after a disrupted past few seasons.
“I’ve been training for the Xterra World Championships in Maui next weekend, ‘ said Atkinson.
“It’s a very hilly bike course over there and I’ve been training a lot on hills, so I was really confident on the bike and thought there would be a breakaway.
“I went a few times and maybe taxed my legs a little more on the bike than I should in and ITU race.”
Atkinson is vying for his historic third Olympic team and he will be the first Australian to do so if he succeeds. “
“It’s always nice to be up the pointy end,” said Atkinson.
“It’s good because I hadn’t raced since London before the beginning of this year.
“It had been a long time and I had set myself a goal. Ideally I would have liked to have won a race, you always want to be at the top but realistically if I can get a podium, I’m back in the ballpark and can work on it again going to Rio next year.
“I stay at home all year in Australia and it’s a long long way to travel to races, so when I race I’m up against guys that race week in and week out.