The pride of WA, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan and Matt Smith will be chasing their third World Duathlon titles when the 2018 Multisport World Championships start in earnest in Fyn, Denmark tonight.
All eyes will be on the two-time and defending Duathlon (10km run/36 bike/4.9 run) champion Sheedy-Ryan in the Elite Women and Smith in the Under 23 men.
The Duathletes will lead a small but select team of Australians – the first athletes to kick-start the 10-day festival of multisport events on Denmark’s second largest island.
It is situated between the island of Zealand and mainland Denmark and will play host to close to 3000 athletes from 48 countries – and a 93-strong team of Australian Elites and Age groupers.
The 33-year-old Sheedy-Ryan won her first Duathlon World crown in Nancy, France in 2012 and then backed up to win title number two in Penticton last year when the ITU established its first Multisport World Championships – everything from Duathlon to Cross Triathlon, Aquabike and Long Distance Triathlon.
“This time last year I made some memories to cherish. Tomorrow I will be searching for more,” Sheedy-Ryan wrote on her Instagram post.
“(It is) always a privilege to represent the green and gold and tomorrow I’m honoured for the opportunity again in the Multisport Duathlon World Championships and I’m excited.”
Last year’s fifth and sixth placegetters respectively Sandrina Illes (Austria) and Georgina Schwiening (Great Britain) loom as tough opponents as does Frenchwoman Sandra Levenez, who was third to Sheedy-Ryan in 2012.
Another wild card will be celebrated Japanese Olympic triathlete Ai Ueda, who at 35, is the oldest in the field – continuing a stellar career that is now 16 years in the making – and she does not look like slowing down.
Apart from the triathlon wins across the ITU spectrum, Aeda has also chalked up three Japan National Sprint Duathlon championships in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
WA’s 21-year-old Smith is the 2015 Sprint (16-19) from Adelaide and 2016 Standard (20-24) Age Group Duathlon World Champion in Aviles.
Smith was also the Australian Duathlon Champion in 2014 and 2015 (16-19) and finished fourth in the Elites in 2016.
Seventh in Penticton last year, he faces a new-look field with those top six graduating to the Elites with only Canada’s Stefan Daniel backing up from last year in the 20-strong Under 23 field.
Amongst the others will be NSW youngsters Cody Salter (Junior Men’s) and Caitlin Sendt in the Junior Women’s.
Dimity-Lee Duke, former ITU world beater from the early 2000s who has forged a career over the long distance format and an in-form Annabel Luxford will line up in the Women’s Long Distance field.
Australian champion and one of the World’s best Cross Triathlete, Wollongong’s Ben Allen will line up in his specialist Cross Tri event.
Allen finished fourth in Penticton after his fifth place finish in the 2016 ITU World Cross Triathlon event in the Snowy Mountains and will be looking to podium in Fyn against a red-hot field.
The Australian team also fields a strong group of Under 23 and Junior athletes - including defending World Cross Triathlon Junior champion Alec Davison who will also contest the Aquathlon and defending Under 23 Aquathlon and Cross Triathlon champion Penny Slater.
Albury’s Justin Godfrey, one of Australia’s true all-round Paratriathletes has also been named on the team after his 2016 Para Cross Triathlon World title he claimed in the Snowy Mountains.
He will be joined by Newcastle’s extraordinary vision impaired triathlete from Newcastle, John Domandl.
Fyn ITU Multisport World Championships, Denmark, is a 10-day event with five World Championship races for:
Duathlon (Run | Bike | Run) on Friday, July 6, Para Duathlon on Saturday, July 7
Cross Triathlon (Swim | Mountain Bike | Trail Run) on Tuesday, July 10
Aquathlon (Swim | Run) on Thursday, July 12
Aquabike (Swim | Bike) on Saturday, July 14
Long Distance Triathlon (Swim | Bike | Run) on Saturday, July 14
Each event is made up of various categories including Elite, U23, Junior, Paratriathlon, Age Group as well as an Open Wave.
Distances and Courses
Aquathlon – 1km Swim | 5km Run
Standard Duathlon – 10km Run | 36 Bike | 4.9km Run
Sprint Duathlon - 5km Run | 20km Bike | 2.5km Run
Aquabike – 3km Swim | 120km Bike
Cross Triathlon – 1km Swim | 27km Bike | 10km Run
Long Distance Triathlon – 3km Swim | 121.5km Bike | 30.7km Run