Natalie Van Coevorden will now set her sights on the road to the Paris Olympics in 2024 after finishing her second season as Australia’s top ranked female triathlete in Abu Dhabi overnight.
In the testing energy-sapping UAE heat, Van Coevorden hung on for 19th against the best of the best in the 2022 World Triathlon Series Grand Final – finishing 20th overall in the WTCS Rankings after one of the longest seasons on record.
Admittedly far from satisfied and always wanting a better result, Van Coevorden knows her dedication to an Olympic berth in two years-time remains her goal.
The 29-year-old Commonwealth Games relay bronze medallist had to put herself in the frame early with her increased swim work paying off.
She exited the water just outside the top 10 as three-time World Champion and the reigning Olympic and two-time Commonwealth Champion Flora Duffy set about adding world title number four.
Dazzling Duffy Wins Fourth World Title After Spectacular Season Finale
There was heartbreak for Van Coevorden’s close Australian teammate, Charlotte McShane who was bundled out of the race, crashing in the later stages of the 40km bike on the tricky new technical course.
McShane went down, riding in the middle of the major chase group of over 40 riders, as they negotiated a notorious corner that later saw two of the leading riders Taylor Knibb (USA) and Vittoria Lopes (BRA) hit the pavement, only to recover to complete the race.
It was a corner where officials continually waved down competitors, urging them to slow down.
Australia’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sophie Linn, who crashed out in the previous WTCS round in Bermuda, also crashed, picking herself up to finish the race in 30th place.
McShane suffered ligament damage to one of her fingers as well as losing some skin, while Emma Jackson (36th) and Jaz Hedgeland (40th) escaped to finish off their seasons after tough days in the office.
The Australian girls will now return home for a well-deserved rest before setting their sights on the road to Paris for 2024 which hots up next year.
Britain’s Kate Waugh Finally Wins Title Of Her Dreams In Under 23 Women
In the women’s Under 23 World Championship, Queensland’s Ellie Hoitink was the best of the Australians also chalking up a hard-fought top 20 finish, crossing the line in 17th, with Matilda Offord (NSW) in 31st.
Hoitink built through the 10km run on the Standard Olympic distance after coming out of the water in the back half of the 40-strong field, riding with the second and third chase groups on the 40km - hanging on through the technical eight lap bike course.
And despite the energy-sapping atmosphere Hoitink produced a solid 10km run split of 36.01.
Running past a host of competitors in a satisfying performance for the Griffith University student, completing a double degree in Government and international relations/Law (Honours).
After a solid swim, Offord, in her World Championship debut, played catch-up through the bike and had no energy left as she hung through the 10km run to the finish.
GB’S Connor Bentley Hangs Tough To Claim Men’s Under 23 Title
The men’s Under 23 World Championship witnessed a brave performance from Hoitink’s squad member, Melbourne-born Queensland-based Oscar Dart, who led the second chase group’s charge into the leading group of 35 coming into T1.
Dart looked comfortable and in control as he trailed noted WTCS bike rider, South African Jamie Riddle, but later struggled in the 10km run, fading to finish 50th, with Australia’s other competitor Luke Bate (NSW) who ended up marooned early in the race, eventually forced to withdraw.
For a guide to the remaining events at the Abu Dhabi World Championships; including racing schedules and how to watch the Elite Men's Grand Final and Inaugural Open Paratriathlon Mixed Relay; visit triathlon.org.au >>