Australia’s Olympic Triathlon hopefuls will be stepping up their preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics when they take to the starting line at Thursday’s Mixed Relay Invitational on the Gold Coast.
Intentionally scheduled four days after Sunday’s Olympic distance triathlon in Mooloolaba, the Invitational is designed to provide athletes with a similar four-day period to recover and refocus between events, to the one that they will be expected to face at this year’s Games.
Returning to defend their 2020 Mixed Relay Invitational title will be Commonwealth Games teammates Ashleigh Gentle and Matt Hauser, racing under the moniker ‘The Runaway Baes’.
Coming off the back of a comfortable victory at the Australian Standard Distance Championships on Sunday and with her sights firmly set on the impending Games, Gentle’s focus on Thursday will be all about replicating the plan in Tokyo.
“For me, I’m just using [the Invitational] as basically a run of what Tokyo would look like,” Gentle said.
“Me and Matt, my ‘Runaway Bae’, we want to put on a really good race together, but to be honest it’s about the prep leading into this race and also what I’m going to do in these next four days to recover as best I can.”
“I’ll see how I feel on Thursday, and if I feel terrible, I’ll probably look back and be like ‘What can I do differently?’. If I feel alright, I’ll probably make sure I remember that for Tokyo. But it’s such a good opportunity to practice the exact same schedule as what we will face in Tokyo.”
In addition to preparing for Tokyo, Thursday’s racing will also provide athletes with a critical opportunity to practice and execute their mixed relay skills among some of Australia’s best.
2019 Mixed Relay World Championship bronze medallists Emma Jeffcoat and Aaron Royle will be drawing on their World Triathlon experience as they team up on Thursday as 'Royle Tea' in pursuit of Thursday’s title.
Commonwealth Games teammates Luke Willian and Gillian Backhouse will be looking to give the field a good run for their money when they pair up as team ‘Life’s Good’, while Olympians Ryan Fisher and Barbara Riveros (CHI) will form team ‘Fisheros’ in their bid for line honours on Thursday.
Gold Coast Performance Centre training partners Kira Hedgeland and Brandon Copeland will return to Runaway Bay as the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ after placing 3rd at the 2020 event. While squad mates Jaz Hedgeland and Kye Wylde will team up for the first time as ‘The College Dropouts’.
Emerging under 23 talents Matilda Offord and Luke Schofield have teamed up as the ‘Waltzing Skywalkers’ after both putting on strong performances at recent events in both Devonport and Mooloolaba. While plenty of Queensland junior athletes will also take up the opportunity to compete alongside their senior counterparts, including Briana Mow, Brad Course, Bridget McCormack, Jack Chrome, Harry Ladd and Aspen Anderson.
The Mixed Relay Invitational will take place on Thursday March 18 at the Gold Coast Performance Centre. You can follow along all of the racing at the Triathlon Australia Instagram (@triaustralia) throughout the day.
Mixed Relay Invitational
Heat One – 7:30am
Heat Two – 8:30am
B Final – 11:30am
A Final – 1:00pm
Photo Credit: Freeway Studios