Hauser to launch Olympic year at Oceania Triathlon Championships Taupo

8 Apr 2024

Photo Credit: World Triathlon

Matt Hauser is set to launch into his Olympic year as he gears up for the Oceania Triathlon Standard Championships in Taupo, New Zealand.

The 26-year-old is among the top contenders taking on Sunday’s Trans-Tasman races, which will see big points on offer for the Olympic Rankings.

The cancellation of the World Triathlon Championship Series opener in Abu Dhabi means Australia’s top-ranked triathlete will kick his Olympic year off in Taupo.

The unexpected shift, coupled with next week’s World Triathlon Cup in Wollongong, creates a unique opportunity for an Olympic Games rehearsal of sorts.

The back-to-back racing scenario, transitioning from standard distance to sprint distance, mirrors the demands that Hauser will face at the Paris Games, where will be competing in the individual event and then the Mixed Team Relay just five days later.

Hauser, coached by Dan Atkins at the Gold Coast Performance Centre in Queensland, last raced four months ago at the Noosa Triathlon, finishing second behind Kiwi Hayden Wilde.

Atkins says he’s eager to see how Hauser races following his longest off season to date.

“The plan initially wasn’t to race Taupo but the chance come up post Abu Dhabi and trying to reshuffle his race plans.” Atkins said.

“The good thing is Matt is healthy and we are both really keen to see how he races.

“The fact that Wollongong World Cup is only six days later, it presented an opportunity to see how he races and backs up from a standard distance to race a sprint distance in a similar time line to that of the Olympic Games.

“Whilst we haven’t really spoken much about this behind-the-scenes the training Matt has done has been guided a bit heavier going into Taupo to see if he can handle this to then back up.”

Hauser will be joined in the men’s race by Paris hopefuls Brandon Copeland, Luke Willian and Jake Birtwhistle, while Australians top-two ranked females, Natalie Van Coevorden and Jaz Hedgeland, lead the charge in the women’s race.

Despite their impressive credentials, none of them will enter the Championships as defending champion.

That distinction belongs to 19-year-old Brad Course, who kept his cool in the heat of Port Douglas last year to run away with the biggest wins of his career.

Also training under Atkins at the Gold Coast Performance Centre, Course became the only junior to ever win an Oceania Standard Championship, in a race that included three Olympians.

Atkins says there is no pressure on the rising star to go back-to-back, the focus instead on his continuous improvement throughout the season.

“Brad had an outstanding front end of his race year, however by the back end of the year he didn’t particularly race the way he would have liked so we have made sure that Brad’s build up this year has been a bit slower.” Atkins said.

“Winning a race like Port Douglas last year gave him a lot of confidence in being able to compete with a race plan. Brad hasn’t forgotten that.

“The pressure isn’t on him to go back-to-back but more so to come away from the race this weekend in Taupo and build on his season with every race.

“Maturity will give him that advantage and he has shown in training that he is building nicely to have a great race along with backing up the following weekend in Wollongong.”

For Course and the other under 23 Australian athletes, Taupo presents a crucial step towards secure their nomination for a spot at October’s World Championships in Torremolinos-Andalucia, Spain.

Achieving a podium finish outright is the first hurdle, and a feat achieved twice last year when Course emerged victorious, and Charlotte Derbyshire secured third place in the women’s race – both going on to represent Australia at the World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.

Any under 23 athlete that achieves a podium finish in Taupo, would then need to secure a top-15 finish at a World Triathlon Cup before August 18 to secure an automatic nomination.

Course and Derbyshire are once again among the under 23 Australians competing, alongside the likes of fellow rising stars Oscar Dart, Toby Powers, Jack Crome, Brayden Mercer, Jessica Ewart-Mctigue, Richelle Hill, Chloe Bateup, and Tara Sosinski.

Akins says he expects it to be tougher for the under 23’s this time around, with a line-up of Australian and New Zealand Olympic hopefuls trying to earn points towards selection for the Paris Games.

“Any under 23 on the start line should be willing to put it all out there.” Atkins said.

“Last year showed with Brad and Charlotte that their job isn’t to be intimidated by the athletes going for Paris but more importantly put real pressure on them.

“This is such a great opportunity for our developing athletes to put some upwards pressure to show they have had a great off season and are ready to go. 

“I can’t wait to watch them all go for it and have red hot crack.”

Oceania Triathlon Standard Championships Taupo – Elite Men
Sunday, April 14 – 11:00am AEST
Full Start Lists

Oceania Triathlon Standard Championships Taupo – Elite Women
Sunday, April 14 – 8:00am AEST
Full Start Lists

To view the AusTriathlon Under 23 World Championships Selection Policy, click here.

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