Rio Olympic triathlon hopeful Gillian Backhouse will arrive in Adelaide today relieved she won’t have to get wet for once when she lines up in the ITU World Duathlon Championships.
It will be the third time Australia has hosted the ITU Duathlon World titles after Newcastle in 2005 and Hobart in 1994.
The 23-year-old copped a nasty kick in the head in the swim leg of the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Chicago last month, ruining her chances of a top 10 finish.
But there is no swim in the Duathlon which will be run out of Adelaide’s Elder Park over a 10km run; 40km bike and 5km run course for the Elites, along King William Street and War Memorial Drive and across the River Torrens.
Backhouse, the reigning Under 23 Duathlon World Champion and silver medallist in the Elites behind Sandra Levenez of France last year, ended up 27th in Chicago in a brave showing.
“Gillian has arrived home disappointed but she’s in good shape and in a good head space and we have gradually built the training back up without the swim,” said her QAS coach Stephen Moss today.
“Her performances last year, which included her successes in the Duathlon in Pontevedra in Spain, were unexpected, but this year will be different; there will be more expectation but she’s not scared, she’s excited to have a crack and to consolidate her belief and her reckoning.
“She is more than capable of a good result in Adelaide over what will be a tough course but she’s a strength athlete who will put herself in the race and who is ready to put some pain in on that bike.”
Backhouse has been the one “wild card” who has put herself in the mix for Rio selection, who will look to a strong showing in Adelaide as she targets the automatic Olympic nomination up for grabs on the Gold Coast next April.
The Elite Women’s race has attracted a small but select field, including three former world champions, in Levenez, Japan’s Ai Ueda (2013) and Australia’s own Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (2012).
Sheedy-Ryan, at 30, has had an encouraging year but has revealed a mysterious leg injury around the hamstring area has curtailed her preparation.
She visited one of WA’s best sports physios in Brett Slocombe yesterday to try and get to the bottom of the issue.
“It has forced me to miss some key sessions and change things around a bit but hopefully Brett can get me back on the road again - I should be right to race come Saturday,” said Sheedy Ryan.
The Elite women’s race will be run at 11.30am on Saturday with the Elite men to follow at 2:45pm.
The men’s race has attracted a field of 25 starters from 15 countries including former world champions, Belgium’s Rob Woestenborghs (2008, 2013), Spain’s Emilo Martin (2012) and France’s defending champion Benoit Nicolas.
Australia will be represented by former Western Bulldogs AFL recruit Braedon Jones and South Australia’s leading professional triathlete Chris Wigell.
Wigell will be the first SA triathlete to represent Australia in the ITU Duathlon in over 10 years.
“It is incredibly exciting times… It will be fantastic to finally earn my place among some great athletes,” Wigell said.
Jones, whose AFL career was cut short due to knee and shoulder operations, turned to triathlon in rehab after being forced to retire from football and finished fifth in the Australian Championships in Adelaide last year to qualify for the Australian team.
The 24-year-old former Aberdeen (Hunter Valley, NSW) junior footie product represented Australia as an age group triathlete in the 20-24 years age group at the ITU World Championships in London in 2013.
After climbing the ranks to a contract with the Western Bulldogs AFL Club, the 22-year-old suffered two serious injuries to his knee and shoulder cutting his AFL career short.
It was during rehabilitation that he was asked to join the Coogee Triathlon Club in Sydney and he became hooked on triathlon.
Australia will also be represented in the following:
Under 23s: Dylan Evans, Adam Rudgley, Matt Brown, Max Neumann (Men) and Annelise Jefferies (Women) and;
Juniors: Luke Willian, Daniel Canala, Kurt Wesley, Nicholas Free, Ethan Woolford, Christian Wilson, Jonathan Sammut (Men, 8am Saturday) and fern Davies, Savannah Wayner, Lily Clapham, Tegan Scott (Women, 9:10am Saturday).
ITU Paraduathlon Championships: Duel paratriathlon world champion Sally Pilbeam and this year’s runner up Kerryn Harvey and their team mates from the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Chicago, Glen Jarvis, Claire McLean and Jonathan Goerlach will also be chasing world championship medals in the ITU Paraduathlon Championships (Sunday from 12.30pm )
Elite/U23 & Junior Team Relay: Australia will be also be represented by a record number of age group athletes, who will line up in Adelaide on Sunday with events over the Sprint (Sunday, from 7:30am) with the Elite/U23 & Junior Team Relay World Championships (Sunday, 2:35pm).
Nations on Parade at Elder Park tomorrow
Elder Park and the Adelaide footbridge will provide the perfect setting to showcase Adelaide to the world, as the festivities of the Adelaide 2015 ITU Duathlon World Championships commence tomorrow evening.
1,500 athletes and officials will march in their national uniforms for the Adelaide City Council Parade of Nations, in a multicultural display culminating in the opening ceremony at Elder Park.
The Adelaide World Duathlon opening ceremony featuring the historic Elder Park rotunda will include Australian themed music and entertainment, for the athletes and community.
Adelaide World Duathlon General Manager Jenny Mann said: “These are free spectator events designed to welcome the diverse group of interstate and international competitors to our beautiful city. We are engaging with the local community to give them the opportunity to meet the athletes and join in the festivities.
We encourage people to come down to Elder Park tomorrow evening or anytime over the weekend, and give visitors a warm South Australian welcome”.
All Adelaide World Duathlon events from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th are free for spectators, Elder Park will also have entertainment and catering. Visit www.adelaide2015.org.au for the full schedule.
For media enquiries please contact Jenny Mann, General Manager on 0421 648 022 For more information please refer to www.adelaide2015.org.au
The Championships is sanctioned by the International Triathlon Union. The Adelaide World Duathlon is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia and the Adelaide City Council.
Adelaide City Council Parade of Nations (free spectator event) 5:30pm, Thursday 15th October Start at Elder Park amphitheatre, finish at Elder Park rotunda.
DWC Opening Ceremony (free spectator event) 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Thursday 15th October Elder Park, Adelaide