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After only limited rest and recreation, Australia’s elite triathletes are back chasing ITU World Championship glory at this weekend’s round in Stockholm, just under three weeks after the London Olympics.
While their 2012 team mates are enjoying the fanfare of the Welcome Home Parades which continue in Brisbane today, London trio, bronze medallist Erin Densham, luckless Emma Moffatt and recently turned 21-year-old Emma Jackson will spearhead an Australian contingent over the short course event on Saturday night/Sunday morning (Australian time).
The Stockholm World Championship Series course consists of a one-lap 750km swim, 20km bike (five 4km loops) and a five km run (two 2.5km laps).
They will also form part of the Australian teams for Sunday’s ITU Mixed Relay World Championship which will see National Federations select two women and men to compete in order of female-male-female-male with each athlete completing a 300m swim, 6km bike and 2km run.
Only one of Australia’s three male Olympians Brendan Sexton looks certain to line up this weekend after London’s best-placed Australian Courtney Atkinson returned home and two-time Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt again fell ill after London with bronchitis – curtailing his training in France.
Kahlefeldt will make a final decision on whether he starts or not at tomorrow’s athlete briefing but updates out of the Australian camp suggest he is highly unlikely to race, with Australian sprint champion Drew Box on stand by.
Densham, who produced one of Australia’s bravest bronze medals of the Games with her stirring finish in front of thousands at Hyde Park, has her sights set firmly on becoming Australia’s latest world triathlon champion.
She is currently sitting in third place on the overall pointscore with 3025 points, narrowly behind New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt (3141) and Switzerland’s Olympic champion Nicola Spirig (3109) with three rounds remaining in Stockholm, Yokohama (September 29,30) and Auckland for the Grand Final (October 20,21).
Australian Performance Manager Michael Flynn said from Stockholm today that Densham is determined to power on towards Auckland and a shot at World Championship glory.
“Erin was a little sick after London and she went back to (her training base in) Spain a little earlier than everyone else so hopefully she will be refreshed and ready to go,” said Flynn.
“All medical reports are very positive and Erin clearly has the ITU World Championship in her sights. She is talking and acting with real conviction and focus and her attitude is clearly fixed on finishing the year on a high.
“There is no doubt that 2012 is clearly Erin’s breakout year and she has a great chance to beat anyone or anything that will be thrown at her.”
Moffatt, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and two-time world champion in 2009 and 2010, saw her 2012 Olympic dreams come crashing down when she spun out early on a slippery corner on the bike leg in London but Flynn believes she is slowly but surely on the way back.
“Emma has almost fully recovered from her crash and has been training and is doing everything to make sure her hip and elbow are back to normal,” said Flynn.
“She still has a little soreness in her hip but is battling on though it to keep training and although she may be a little underdone for Stockholm it looks like she is keen to continue racing through to the ITU Auckland World Championships.”
Flynn said he is continually amazed by Jackson, who finished a courageous eighth in London, and who keeps responding to the training load from QAS coach Stephen Moss “no matter how tired she is.”
“Emma turned 21 last Monday and she is definitely looking forward to racing and I think she is looking much stronger,” said Flynn.
“There is no doubt she now has Rio firmly in her sights in 2016 and will spend the next four years doing whatever it takes to be the best triathlete in the world.”
STOCKHOLM ITU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TIMES (AEST):
Men’s Race: 10.50pm (Saturday evening)
Women’s race: 12.45am (Sunday morning)
Mixed Relay World Championship: 10.45pm (Sunday evening)
Triathlon Australia is proudly supported by the Australian Sports Commission, the Government body that develops supports and invests in sport at all levels in Australia.