Dual Olympian Courtney Atkinson shared his aspirations for a third Olympics in Rio while 20-year-old young gun Jacob Birtwhistle was just happy to be sitting on the end of the table, attending his first International World Cup (ITU) press conference for this weekend’s Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup.
Joining them was Australia’s Commonwealth Games representative and former ITU World Junior Champion Ashleigh Gentle and Canadian red heads former World number one Paula Findlay and Commonwealth Games representative Sarah-Anne Brault.
The start list includes 75 world class men and 53 elite women from over 30 countries around the globe including Australia, Mexico, Spain, New Zealand, France, and Japan.
They are just five of the stars who will front the starter’s gun for tomorrow’s World Cup and here is what they had to say.
Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS)
On racing at Mooloolaba
“It’s always going to be a lot athletes wanting to race here in Mooloolaba, it’s a prestigious event and one that is highly regarded around the world. So it’s great to be given the opportunity to race here and hopefully I can do it justice.”
On being part of the Wollongong Wizards
“It does get pretty competitive training with some of the best guys in Australia and in the world at the moment, so it’s great to be training with them. It has improved me a lot and shows me what I need to do to achieve something great in this sport.”
Paula Findlay (CAN)
On her 2015 season
“I wasn’t out of the sport for two years, I was still trying to get back in those two years. But I have recently switched coaches, I’m with Siri Lindley now and I finished off 2014 fairly well and now I’m really looking forward to having a consistent season and to remain healthy. That’s the goal this year, finish off in Chicago in September healthy and able to race. But to be here in March, relatively fit and ready to race, it’s a big step for me.”
On her results under new coach and former ITU World Champion, Siri Lindley
It is really a transformation. She’s mentally made me a better athlete, a more confident athlete and made my body healthy enough to be able to race. The group I train with is pretty incredible. Mirinda Carfrae and Jodie Swallow and girls that I look up too… Siri brings this energy to training every day that just makes me excited to be there.”
Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
What it’s like to be back in ITU racing, and attempting to qualify for this third Olympic Games
“For me it’s an old thing come new, but I’m refreshed and if I’m honest a little bit anxious. Because you look at a World Cup list now and it truly is an international event. What ITU have done with the sport is pretty amazing, you look down the list and it’s just country after country. To be part of that again, I said to one of the boys the other day… with ITU racing you get that kind of stadium feel. You turn up, there is a lot of intensity, a lot of energy, I missed that. So I’m glad to be back.”
On the transition back to short course racing
“I’m realistic and not expecting miracles straight away, but when your eight-year-old daughter says ‘Dad, I want you to go to the Olympic Games again’ what do you say? I wouldn’t be doing it unless I thought… I raced against some of the guys last year and I think I’ve got a realistic chance of doing it. I think growing up here in Australia, what the Olympics means and what it means to me… I’d be silly not to give it another shot. There are no guarantees in this, it’s probably going to be a bit of a bumpy road… but I’m 100% in it and glad to be back.”
Ashleigh Gentle (AUS)
Reflecting on her 2014 season
“2014 was a little bit up and down for me, it was obviously a huge highlight to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games, it was definitely a dream come true. I didn’t have the best race experience there but I did learn a lot and I guess it kind of motivated me to come out in 2015 and try and have a good consistent year.”
Sarah-Anne Brault (CAN)
On her strong start to the 2015 season
“It almost felt like a bit of a training session in Wollongong [in an Oceania Cup event], there was six of us in the lead pack and four were Wizards from different countries. But I know tomorrow will be a whole new level and we have some WTS races that will step it up again, but tomorrow fits perfectly in the schedule. It’s going to be a great field and a great hit out and I was here last year, I love coming back to Mooloolaba.”
The elite women’s race will get underway at 11:45am, while the elite men will toe the line at 1:30pm local time.
Follow the races with live timing at triathlon.org and on twitter @triathlonlive.
The Subaru Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival will be held from Friday 13 – Sunday 15 March 2015.
Individual and team entries will be available onsite, for the Mooloolaba Triathlon, on Friday and Saturday.
For event information visit www.mooloolabatri.com.au
The Subaru Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of sporting, cultural and regional events across the State.