Nearly 80 of NSW’s best youth, junior and elite triathletes joined the rest of the country at a very warm Stromlo Forest Park and Leisure Centre in Canberra for the Australian Grand Prix Triathlon, which doubled as the Australian Youth and Junior Super Sprint Championships. Points were on offer across 5 very different events in the first three days, which would be used to determine places in each of the graded finals on Sunday.
Competition commenced on Thursday with 1500m runs on the beautiful Rob De Castella Cross Country Running Track, with fractions of a second separating many of the placings as our NSW athletes fighted desperately for every position. Friday’s program saw two Hyper Sprint Triathlons, including an enduro style format, which rewarded those who took risks, made smart tactical decisions and ventured out of their comfort zone.
With many of the pointscores being very close after the first two days and fatigue starting to creep in, Saturday was an important one with 14 heats of a short course aquathlon in the morning and then the explosive “Le mans” style criterium racing on Saturday afternoon, which is always a crowd favourite. Imagine up to 25 athletes running 200 metres and entering transition at almost the same time. It’s chaos, but rewarded those who raced with assertiveness and stayed calm.
The finals were sorted and Sunday arrived. The World Cross Country Selection Trials were finishing up at Stromlo Forest Park and the venue transitioned to once again welcome Australia’s emerging triathletes and it was go time. Australian Titles, prize money and invaluable early season race experience was up for grabs.
Illawarra Academy of Sport’s William Mason (Shellharbour Tri Club) put himself within striking distance in the swim and bike, but it was a terrific run leg that saw him storm home and win the bronze medal as 3rd across the line in the Youth Male A Final.
The Junior Girls A Final was a thriller. Grace Henry (Balmoral/Brighton Baths) of the Emerging Talent Squad set the early pace on the swim, riding solo on the bike for a couple of laps until Emma Olson-Keating (Pulse Performance Tri Club) pressed hard to make up the deficit, with Alex Field (BRATS/Cronulla) joining Henry and Olson-Keating to form a NSW trio as they headed out on to the run leg. Olson-Keating proved too strong in the end, holding her form brilliantly, despite doing a significant amount of work on the bike, to come home and take the Australian Title, with Alex Field hanging tough for the bronze medal.
The Junior Boys definitely didn’t let the girls take all the spotlight. A larger group came into transition together, meaning it came down to who had the legs on the run after plenty of power surges on the technical bike course. Wade Barr (Central Coast Tri Club) emphasised his run form again, this time on the National stage, taking the lead and holding off some high quality athletes for the National Title. Mitchell Blackbourn (Hills/Illawarra) wasn’t far off the pace with a very impressive performance in 3rd to feature two NSW athletes on the podium.
The Elite and U23 fields were smaller in number, but not lacking in quality, with Triathlon NSW Development Pathway alumni, Tilly Offord (Macarthur/Hills), Luke Schofield and Jayden Schofield (Pulse Performance Tri Club) showing some great early season form. Offord was unchallenged and showed great strength and skills on the technical bike course to extend the gap between herself and the rest of the field, claiming victory in the elite women’s race. NSW U23 Development Squad athlete, Rory Thornhill, had a brilliant day, finishing second behind established World Cup-level athlete Callum McClusky (ACT). Jayden Schofield got bragging rights up on his brother, edging out Luke on the line to claim the bronze medal. Another NSW U23 Development Squad athlete, Laura Gillard (Albury Wodonga Tri Club), made up a huge amount of time on the run to cross the line in 3rd place in the Elite Women’s event.
More information on the Australian Grand Prix Triathlon events can be found at https://grandprixtriathlon.com.au/
RACE RESULTS can be found HERE
The next draft legal race opportunity for our pathway athletes will be the sixth and final round of the NSW Billigence Pathway Championship Series, hosted by Panthers Triathlon Club on the morning of Sunday 29th January at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.
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