It’s been a long haul but London Olympian Emma Jackson is ready to rumble on her return to the ITU World Triathlon Series circuit in Yokohama this Saturday.
Jackson will be joined by her fellow QAS Moss Squad training partner Gillian Backhouse who has also been sidelined for most of the domestic and early part of the WTS season.
They will be part of an 11-strong Australian contingent of five women and six men as the circuit hots up along the road to the Rio test Event and the World Championships in Chicago in August.
“I can’t believe I’m finally going to race,” said Jackson, who suffered a Sacral stress fracture back in January, “it has been a long haul but hopefully the wait will be worthwhile.
“I am not expecting a great deal first up but it will be good to get this first race of the season under my belt before heading into France and our training base in Aix les Bains.
“Training has been coming together but we’ll have to see what happens when it comes to race day.”
QAS head coach and 2014 Triathlon Australia Coach Of The Year and Moss Squad head coach, Stephen Moss will join his charges, Jackson, Backhouse, Commonwealth Games representative Dan Wilson, new addition Cam Good, in Yokohama before they link with 4-time Paratriathlon World Champion Billy Chaffey and young guns, Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Brittany Dutton and emerging male Matthew Roberts next week in Aix.
“We’re hoping that out of something unfortunate will come something good and although it has been a tough ride for Emma, I believe we have been able to extract some positives out of it for her,” said Moss.
“The time has really allowed us to work on a few key areas. She is really determined to get back to racing and to do well. She’s hungry to race and ready to go
“Her rehabilitation is full and complete and there are certainly no issues and in some sets she is going as well as she’s ever gone – I couldn’t be happier.
“Although we could have pushed it and gone to Cape Town we decided to wait until Yokohama to come back before we race London and Hamburg, with Rio and that automatic spot for Rio on the line and the World Championships in Chicago the focus.”
Moss is also happy to have Backhouse, the Triathlon Australia Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award winner of 2014, back on the start line as well after she too suffered a stress fracture.
“Gillian is a couple of weeks behind Emma and is still not quite 100 percent but she is ready to have a hit out in Yokohama with Rio her major focus too,” said Moss.
“She has been training well but it hasn’t been easy coming off the break through year she had. Her expectations are high but she’s been going really well after a bumpy start.”
Others in Yokohama will be dual Olympian and former ITU World Champion Emma Moffatt, her Gold Coast-based Commonwealth Games team mate Ashleigh Gentle and 2013 ITU Under 23 World Champion Charlotte McShane.
Moffatt, despite a disappointing season debut in Abu Dhabi has produced two consistent outings in Auckland and on the Gold Coast and is sitting in 10th place on the ITU Columbia Threadneedle Rankings with McShane 14th, Gentle 35th and Densham 40th.
The women’s field will be led by unbeaten American Gwen Jorgensen, who has taken all before her this season and will be refreshed after missing Cape Town following her Abu Dhabi, Auckland and Gold Coast victories.
The men’s race will see a full compliment of six Australian starters, Commonwealth Games trio Ryan Bailie, Aaron Royle and Wilson who will be joined by dual Olympian Courtney Atkinson, emerging youngster Jacob Birtwhistle and Good.
Bailie has been Australia’s most consistent male over the past two seasons and 2015 has been no different and he is currently sitting in ninth place on the WTS rankings, in and around the who’s who of the ITU circuit with the Spanish trio, rankings leaders Javier Gomez, Mario Mola and Fernando Alarza the ones to beat.
Triathlon Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage is keen to see how his troops perform.
“It’s exciting to see the depth we are gaining in both the women and the men and to have both Jackson and Backhouse back is a huge boost and I know they are both itching to get this race under their belts,” said Savage.
“The men will have a great mix from Ryan Bailie and Aaron Royle to Courtney Atkinson, Brendan Sexton, Cam Good and Jake Birtwhistle.
“Bailie wasn’t happy with the way he felt in the Gold Coast race, post Auckland, but he still raced consistently and I’m sure he’ll come out here are continue that form.
“Royle will also be out to show himself after missing the Gold Coast while Atkinson is reveling in the opportunities to race and he showed on the Gold Coast that he is certainly running into form.
“His past results in Asia show that he races well in these conditions and I know he will be out to step it up again.”