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Chaffey declared he will be ready for the Games despite spectacular crash

NSW’s paratriathlon daredevil Bill Chaffey has given an ironclad guarantee he will be fit to make his Commonwealth Games debut on April 7 despite almost crashing out in the Australian Triathlon Sprint Championship Luke Harrop Memorial on the Gold Coast today.
 
It was a day that saw the Championships switched to a Duathlon after poor water quality (following the Gold Coast’s week of rain) gave race organizers no alternative but to replace the 750m swim with a 2.5km run and adding it to the 20km bike and five kilometre run.
 
But it did not stop the tough-as-teak Chaffey from showing exactly what he is made of in pursuit of Commonwealth Games gold - declaring he will be ready.
 
“I will be 100 percent at the Games and I’ll be leading the charge,” declared Chaffey after being officially named in the six-strong paratriathlon team who will join the already selected six Elites, forming a team of 12 for the Games assault.
 
“I’ve got a couple of little scratches, but I’ve had worse shaving.”
 
The 42-year-old father of two and five-time ITU Paratriathlon World Champion has promised to “slow down” ever so slightly to ensure he will be on the start line when his sport makes its Games debut.
 
Chaffey crashed out twice, the second time in spectacular fashion, tumbling out of his racing wheelchair just 200m from the finish line, spinning off into the barriers as Age Group competitors helped him back into the saddle – a fall that cost him the National title.
 
It allowed Victoria’s two-time National cycling champion and paratriathlon newcomer Alex Welsh to scoot past Chaffey and claim the gold medal.
 
“I treat every race like it’s a world championship; I go 100 percent all the time and sometimes that can be my downfall,” admitted Chaffey, the fearless Tweed Heads police prosecutor.
 
“And it was a little bit like that today, going too fast for the course conditions and the traffic that was on the course.
 
“It brought me undone twice but I feel alright...I’ve got a little bit of a sore shoulder, a sore finger, a couple of scratches but nothing that’s going to stop me.
 
“I will be back in the pool tomorrow morning at 5am and I’ll just continue the training as I’ve been going along (to this point).
 
“I’ve entered a race at Mooloolaba in two weeks; it’s my favourite race in the world. I’ve raced a lot of places but I still love Mooloolaba the best.
 
“I’ll race that but I might knock it back to 99.95 percent; I don’t won’t any more mishaps before the Games and it’s double the distance. That’s why I think it will be a really good final run for me.”
 
Chaffey joined his team mates in front of a large crowd of family, friends, supporters and the cream of Australia’s Age Groupers and spectators who were on hand to congratulate and welcome the team of six with already nominated Chaffey and reigning world champion Emily Tapp (ACT) joined by Paralympian Nic Beveridge (QLD) and former wheelchair basketballer Scott Crowley (SA) in the men’s team and Lauren Parker (NSW) and Sara Tait (QLD) on the women’s team.
 
“We are all here as one team, unified, and it’s a great announcement to happen here on the Gold Coast,” said Chaffey.
 
“The competition is red hot. These guys (Beveridge and Crowley) are right up there. Guys from the other Commonwealth Games will give it a real big push and will be great entertainment for people to come out and watch at the Commonwealth Games and hopefully I can bring it home.
 
“Even though I did have some mishaps today, I am in great form, the best form I have ever been in.”
 
Earlier in the day Commonwealth Games Elite men Luke Willian, 22 and Matt Hauser, 19, put on a real show with fellow Queenslander Luke Burns before Willian ran away to secure the Australian Sprint title and Luke Harrop Memorial victory from Hauser with Willian’s training partner Burns an eye-catching third in the hot, humid conditions following a week of Gold Coast rain.
 
It was their first hit out of the season in the countdown to April 5, when they race for the first medals of the Games with team mate Jake Birtwhistle that morning.
 
Under 23 world championship bronze medallist Willian was out of the blocks and into the first run like a startled gazelle – putting the pressure on Hauser and the field of mainly talented Under 23 men.
 
“It was nice to come out here and get a feel for the course and get back racing, testing the legs and pushing to the limit that bit more in a quality field,” said Willian.
 
“I’ve done a lot of base work and now slowly moving into the speed work phase. I’ve got another six weeks now so hopefully I’ll be flying by the time I get there.” 
 
“The countdown is definitely on until the Games. I have (more) racing from here on in to get more confidence and be ready.
 
“It was good to come back after missing this race last year. It’s one of my favourite races on the calendar and so close to home. It’s a really fun day out for everyone.”
 
Hauser, the boy who came from Hervey Bay to join Triathlon Australia High Performance coach Dan Atkins on the Gold Coast two years ago, was also pleased to test himself.
 
“It’s a fantastic hit out here today and the crowds were absolutely amazing out there. “I managed to execute the processes well, got the job done,” Hauser said.
 
“It’s definitely going to mirror the conditions of the Commonwealth Games. It was an amazing atmosphere out here today and it will only be tenfold come April.
 
 “It was intensity from the start, we knew we had to push the others through and that’s what it’s going to be like come April, it’s going to be fast and furious.
 
“I tried to make a break on the bike early on to see how the legs tested out and managed to hold onto second on the run, it felt really good.”
 
Hauser also paid tribute to Luke Harrop, who lost his life on the Gold Coast after a training accident in 2002 as he too prepared for the Commonwealth Games Trials.
 
 “This race means so much to us Aussies and to triathletes worldwide,” said Hauser. “It’s amazing to reflect on an amazing life and to be able to do that in the sport he loved is special.” 
 
In the women’s race, Sydney’s nursing graduate Emma Jeffcoat locked up her second victory in as many weeks, adding the National Sprint title to her Oceania crown won last week in Devonport ahead of Queensland pair Courtney Gillfillan and Katinka Von Elsner-Wellsteed
 
“It was good to go back to back. I wanted to show that I could back up and even without the swim, my favourite part, was great,” Jeffcoat said.
 
“I got into the mindset of that’s racing. It could happen at any level, the same rules apply, you’ve got to be adaptable and get on with it.
 
“There was some really strong competition, in the U23’s, which is exciting. Great to have those girls push me along today.
 
“There will be no rest for the wicked, straight back into training. I will have next weekend off racing and then get ready for Mooloolaba World Cup.”

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