A brilliant finish from rising star Jaz Hedgeland and the continued comeback of Luke Willian highlighted Australia’s performances at yesterday’s Oceania Sprint Triathlon Championships in Kinloch.
Western Australian Hedgeland finished runner up overall to New Zealand’s Sophie Corbidge (Auckland) in the Elite women’s race and took out the U23 Oceania title while Willian also took silver in the men’s race and won the Under 23s.
Training partners with the Wollongong Wizards Grace Musgrove and Natalie Van Coevorden also put together eye-catching races to finish with silver and bronze in the Under 23s and complete an Australian treble.
Light rain fell consistently throughout both races, making the technical bike course as much a bike handling exercise as it was a question of speed and power.
“I didn’t have as good a swim as I wanted, “ said Hedgeland.
“I knew I had to work hard on the bike and then I was feeling good on the run so I tried to push all the way to the end.
“I could see (the leaders) ahead and that helps you push a little more, it hurt a lot and my legs were absolutely burning right through to the end.”
Corbidge was in the lead group out of the water and along with fellow Kiwis Kate McIlroy (Wellington), Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau) and Simone Ackermann (Whangarei) proceeded to push the pace, asking big questions of former World Champion Lisa Norden (Sweden) and Grace Musgrove (Australia) as they too looked to keep in contact with the leaders over the 20km bike leg.
McIlroy was the first to suffer but it wasn’t through any physical failing, the London Olympian dropped her chain on the final lap and lost a vital 30 seconds coming into transition, allowing Corbidge, Kingsford, Norden and Musgrove the chance to move away at a vital time.
Once on to the run though Corbidge was the dominant figure, moving straight to the front of the race and never being challenged, despite the best efforts of a strong looking McIlroy and a fast finish from Hedgeland who moved past all but the Kiwi to claim silver. Norden earned third place prize-money but was not eligible for the medals, with bronze going to McIlroy.
In the men’s race, Queensland’s Luke Willian tried but couldn’t go with the powerful Kiwi Sam Osborne (Rotorua).
“Sam had the legs today on the hills, I was a bit tired and Sam has that over me at the moment but I will keep working hard and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Willian.
“My big goal is to make the Australian junior team to compete in Chicago at the World Champs in September.”
No sooner had the dust settled – or should that be the water pooled on the women’s race, out came the men and the rain fell even harder.
The race followed a similar pattern as a group of 7 athletes formed a lead bunch on the bike and despite the best efforts of Robert Huisman, Osborne and Tayler Reid (Gisborne) in particular, there was no break off the front.
Willian was the sole Aussie in the lead group, while all three Japanese competitors were doing their best to hold on to the flying Kiwis.
Former ITU World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden was delighted to be back on the podium at an ITU race.
“I guess I take out the 30+ category today against these young girls! It is great to be back and racing, my coach had no expectations on the results, it is all about getting back into it and to come away with a podium, my first for a long time in an ITU race I am delighted,” said Norden.
“I am based in Cambridge for a few months, I will race the Sovereign Tri Series in Takapuna and the ITU World Cup race in New Plymouth so I am looking forward to my stay here for sure.”
Elite Men – Oceania Championships
Gold Sam Osborne, NZL, 1:02:30
Silver, Luke Willian, AUS, 1:02:45
Bronze, Tayler Reid, NZL, 1:02:56
Elite Women – Oceania Championships
Gold, Sophie Corbidge, NZL, 1:07:11
Silver, Jaz Hedgeland, Aus, 1:07:40
Bronze, Kate McIlroy, NZL, 1:07:50
* Lisa Norden, SWE, finished third and receives prize money and ITU points but is not eligible for an Oceania or New Zealand medal
U23 Men – Oceania Championships
Gold Luke Willian, AUS, 1:02:45
Silver, Tayler Reid, NZL, 1:02:56
Bronze, Fynn Thompson, NZL, 1:03:07
U23 Women – Oceania Championships
Gold, Jaz Hedgeland, AUS, 1:07:39
Silver, Grace Musgrove, AUS, 1:07:56
Bronze, Natalie Van Coevorden, AUS, 1:09:29
Full results, including those for all age groups and short distance racing will be posted at www.triseries.kiwi