In Leeds, Australians Aaron Royle (NSW), who led the field out of the swim as he set about chasing those critical final Olympic quota points for Australia, and Jake Birtwhistle (TAS) finished 19th and 21st respectively in a men’s race won by Great Britain’s Alex Yee who had Leeds’ Roundhay Park in the palm of his hands.
Yee coasted to a first WTCS gold after a magnificent 10km run with Morgan Pearson (USA) producing another brilliant race to finish second; the bronze going to Belgium’s Marten van Riel.
The women’s race saw another Olympic hopeful Natalie Van Coevorden (NSW) finish in 16th, following her 15th place position in Yokohama and 11th at the 2021 World Triathlon Cup held in Lisbon. While London Olympian Emma Jackson was a DNF as she works her way back into form from injury.
On the second lap of the bike it was Van Coevorden who emerged in pursuit of the leaders along with British athlete Beth Potter and Bermuda’s former world champion Flora Duffy as she continued to test herself in the return to racing, eventually running into fourth. In the end the race went to the Netherlands Maya Kingma who took her first ever Series win.
For Australia the Tokyo countdown is also about the all-important goal of maximising the quota of three athletes for both genders - now mathematically possible. The final run for Olympic qualification points, which wraps up this weekend at the World Triathlon Cup race in Huatulco, Mexico and the 2021 Oceania Triathlon Championship and Cup in Port Douglas will see Australia with a real chance of qualifying three athletes per gender.
Triathlon Australia National Performance Director Justin Drew “If we are successful in qualifying three per gender it is likely that it would be only Australia or the US that could get that final combination of three and for us, it comes from a situation that was really looking highly unlikely given the challenges in accessing International events from Australia," said Drew.
Clint Pickin finished 5th in the PTS4 class at the World Triathlon Para Championships event the day prior to the WTCS event and will aim to his Paralympic qualification aspiration alive over the final Para Triathlon World Cup races of the period.
A lightning fast Super Sprint format at the Oceania Triathlon Cup proved to be a “Runaway Bay” success story while internationally-based Australians were racing for critical Olympic points in Leeds.
Australian Olympic hopefuls strutted their stuff on Gold Coast home soil with local stars – Commonwealth Games gold medallist Matthew Hauser and an inform Jaz Hedgeland emerging victorious.
It was a helter skelter round of qualifying and semi-final racing before Hauser and Hedgeland took out their respective finals over the 150m (pool) swim, four kilometre bike and one kilometre run course.
Triathlon Australia’s National Performance Director Justin Drew walked away from the Runaway Bay complex satisfied with the day’s action. “There was some great racing, that’s for sure, starting off with our para-triathletes facing back to back races to start the day” said Drew.
“It was demanding racing and we’ve had plenty of positive feedback from the athletes.”
Jonathon Goelach and guide David Mainwaring were impressive in the PTVI class alongside a number of other strong performances including a resurgent Nic Beveridge (PTWC) who relished in the dual racing opportunity on the day
In the Oceania Triathlon Cup, Hauser, who has been a member of Australia’s Mixed Relay gold medal triumphs at both Commonwealth Games and World Championships, proved too good in the end, winning in a time of 10mins 50 secs after a thrilling tussle with second-placed fellow Queenslander Matt Roberts (10:55) and third placed Callum McCluskey also (10.55).
Roberts pipped Hauser out of the swim in 1mins 39 to 1:40 but it was Hauser who took a narrow lead on to the running track after the one lap four-kilometre bike leg before racing away to take the win in a super sprint format he certainly laps up.
Hauser’s Commonwealth Games team mate Luke Willian was forced out of the race after a crash in T2 in the final which took him out for the run.
Meanwhile the women’s race developed into a real duel in the end between Hedgeland and former under 23 World Champion Charlotte McShane with former WA local Hedgeland, holding on for a thrilling win.