Australia’s top-ranked elite triathlete Matt Hauser into the Australian team camp, ready to shut out recent disruptions and finish off his season with an automatic nomination into next year’s Paris Olympic Games.
After his breakthrough World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) win in Montreal, Hauser was forced out of the Olympic qualifying Paris Test Event on August with COVID.
And only now has he been able to unlock the shackles in a race against time to try and finish his season on a high, saying he is “ever ready for a measured and gutsy fight.”
The northwest Spanish coast and Vigo is where the Australian contingent of Para triathletes, Under 23s and Elites are holed up just 15 minutes out from World Triathlon Championship Series Grand Final HQ and its new Olympic course in Pontevedra.
Hauser knows that his WTCS podium is now realistically out of reach, but an individual race day podium and a top-eight finish and an automatic-nomination to the Australian Olympic Committee for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games is certainly within his grasp.
The Elite men’s and women’s fields will be of Olympic proportions – a two-lap 1500m swim around the Puente de los Tirantes before eight five-kilometre laps on the mostly flat 40-kilometre bike course but with a sharp climb and speed bumps of medium-low hardness and a small descent.
Before four-2.5km laps of the 10 kilometres run route to finish off through the beautiful historic old town, a course that will suit the determined Hauser down to the ground.
In the men’s field, Hauser will be joined by fellow Olympian Jake Birtwhistle as well as Brandon Copeland, Luke Willian and Callum McClusky, all looking to finish the season on a high.
The women’s field will be headed up by Australia’s most consistent female over the past two seasons Natalie Van Coevorden along with Olympians Jaz Hedgeland and Emma Jackson Commonwealth Games representatives Charlotte McShane and Sophie Linn, returning after her mishap in Hamburg, will all have Paris on their minds too as they prepare for one final WTCS fling.
Hauser says he is ready to get the job wrapped up, after a seemingly free flowing year, the back end becoming somewhat of a grind but knowing triathlon is a sport that is so often full of setbacks.
“After my disappointing DNS in Paris I’ve since been battling hard to get myself ready for this Grand Final,” Hauser said.
“Unfortunately, now I’m most likely out of World title contention but I will still be turning up to muster up a solid performance and hopefully meet that automatic nomination criteria for the Olympics.
“I find myself in a similar position to where I was in Yokohama this year, a disrupted preparation but ever ready for a measured and gutsy fight.
“It’s taken up until this past week to string a couple of decent sessions together so it could be a ‘just in the nick of time’ scenario.
“I’m actually really looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere and energy of another World Championship final race, one that will be hotly contested and I’m sure never shy of drama.
“Closing the doors on what’s been an enjoyable chapter in Banyoles base camp and being in Vigo this week with the team with a special shout out to my coaches and support staff for helping get me here through all of the setbacks.”
The men’s race will feature Olympic silver and bronze medallists from Tokyo in Alex Yee(GBR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL) who have been the two most consistent Elite males for the last two seasons along with Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca.
On a new Olympic-distance course, with all the unique pressures of a Championship Finals race, the weight of expectation around the favourites and a field deep with medal contenders to fend off, anything can happen.
The women’s race will see the return of Linn, Australia’s best placed female (fifth) in last year’s Commonwealth Games, returning to the start line after breaking her foot in a bizarre transition accident in Hamburg as she pushed towards the lead off the bike.
“It’s been an interesting summer to say the least after actually breaking my foot in Hamburg,” Linn said.
“I have not raced since then. I have been able to swim and bike, so we have been working super hard to stay fit whilst the foot recovered.
“I have just started running again, so we are full steam ahead for Pontevedra and will give it a crack despite the challenges we have had the past two months.”
It’s a women’s field and a WTCS race that is up for grabs that could see any one of nine women crowned as the new world champion – with French pair Cassandre Beaugrand and Emma Lombardi and Scotland’s Beth Potter along with American Taylor Spivey – all up front – knowing wins in the Grand Final will secure the overall crown.
For the Australian women it will be another chance to show their wares for Olympic nomination on the world’s biggest stage.
2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Elite Men
Sunday 24 September – 1:20AM
Men’s Start List
2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Elite Women
Monday 25 September – 12:45AM
Women’s Start List
Nat Van Coevorden