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Australia’s reigning Under 23 World Triathlon champion Emma Jackson was given the day off school to watch the 2008 Olympic Games triathlon in Beijing – the day Emma Snowsill was crowned Olympic champion and Emma Moffatt won Olympic bronze.
But now three years later, Jackson, who has just turned 20, will again rub shoulders with her two fellow Emmas in the 2011 Dextro Energy ITU Triathlon World Championship Grand Final in the Olympic city on Sunday.
Jackson is now a full-fledged member of the Australia Senior Elite squad with Snowsill, Moffatt, and the two Felicity’s; Abram and Sheedy-Ryan, who will make up the Elite Women’s Team of five for Sunday’s final (3.30pm start AEST).
They will be joined by a men’s Senior Elite team which includes veterans Brad Kahlefeldt, Courtney Atkinson, Chris McCormack who between them have represented at World Championships a total of 25 times and rising star Brendan Sexton in tomorrow’s (Saturday) men’s race (2.30pm AEST).
Action gets underway today with the Elite Under 23 men’s team of Aaron Royle, Mitch Robins and Peter Kerr facing the starters gun at 2.30pm AEST with the Paratriathlon starting at 5.45pm AEST and featuring six-time Paralympian Michael Milton, Matt Brumby and Bill Chaffey.
The Elite junior women Natalie Van Coevorden, Ashlee Bailie and Tamsyn Moana-Veale will race tomorrow (12.45pm AEST) with the Junior Men team Scott Llewellyn, Jack Hickey, Matt Brown racing at 2.30pm AEST and over 170 Age Group representatives will contest Olympic distance and sprint distance World Championships tomorrow and Sunday.
For Jackson her graduation into the Senior Elite Class has been the story of 2011 and to get the former Queensland Schoolgirls cross country running champion in the mood and to remind the young Queenslander just what a demanding course this is here, her coach Stephen Moss replayed her the video of Triathlon Australia’s finest Olympic hour.
“I remember taking the day off school to go home and watch the race and to see the girls win gold and bronze was just amazing,” said Jackson, as she put the finishing touches to her Grand Final preparation.
“So to relive that day and to watch it on the video the other day brought back some great memories and it showed just how good the girls performed on the day.”
But 2011 has been a breakthrough year for Emma Jackson who has stepped up to challenge Snowsill and Moffatt not just for Australian supremacy but also in the run through the pressurised Olympic selection process.
Moffatt, Jackson and Snowsill provided one of the major highlights of the ITU Series when they completed an extraordinary “Emma Trifecta” in the Hamburg round – the first time three athletes from the same country with the same christian name have ever shared the podium at a major world championship race.
It was a red-letter day for Triathlon Australia and certainly heralded the arrival of the latest Emma factor in the very competitive world of international triathlon.
Jackson, who is currently fifth on the ITU overall pointscore, with British girl Helen Jenkins in front will be doing everything she can to get as close to the podium.
“It would be great to finish the Series on a high here in Beijing and make it to the podium again but I know just how hard it’s going to be,” said Jackson.
“But I am in good shape, in a good frame of mind and I know I can’t afford to have a bad leg.”
Moffatt, who admits she hasn’t had the best of seasons, is also determined to finish on a high while Snowsill is again troubled with a niggling sore throat which has disrupted her preparation after missing the Lausanne World Sprint race three weeks ago.
“I have not had the best of season’s but I’m looking to try and turn that around here in Beijing,” said Moffatt, the two-time and defending champion.
“Just to be back here in Beijing where I have so many great memories of that day is wonderful and everywhere I look I see something that takes me back to that day when I wasn’t expecting a medal at all.”
Snowsill has only been able to do minimal training since Lausanne when she was forced out of the race with a viral infection but she says she was always keen to return to Beijing to race in the Olympic city again.
“I obviously have so many wonderful memories of achieving the ultimate result at the Olympic Games here in 2008,” said Snowsill.
“Just driving around the course here in Changping has reminded me of some of those little things that I had forgotten over the past three years and what a great day it was.
“And returning here has always been on my agenda and to race in any World Championship Grand Final is always very special and you want to race and you want to race well.
“When I first arrived into Beijing I felt brilliant and completed a few ‘fire the body up’ sessions; I thought I was starting to feel better.
“But then I started to feel a little off colour, with a cough and a tickle in my throat and I started seeing the doctor straight away.
“I am doing everything I can to get myself right to race under the circumstances and at the moment I am just taking every day as it comes and hopefully come race day I’ll be ready.”
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