Paris 2024: Hauser aims to break Australia’s Olympic triathlon medal drought

2 Jul 2024

Matt Hauser will arrive onto the one of the world’s most iconic avenues – The Champs Elysees – ready to put it all on the line for a slice of Olympic history at this year’s Paris Games.

Hauser has emerged as Australia’s number one triathlete over the past three years in a sport that will appear on the Olympic program for the seventh time, since making its spectacular debut in Sydney in the year 2000.

It’s an Olympic event that has been dominated by Commonwealth countries – with four of the six gold medals in the men’s triathlon going to Canada’s Simon Whitfield (Sydney 2000), New Zealand’s Hamish Carter (Athens 2004) and Great Britain’s legend Alistair Brownlee, going back-to-back (London 2012 and Rio 2016).

In fact, of the 18 medals won since Sydney, 15 of them have been won by Commonwealth athletes – with Australia the one glaring omission.

While in the previous six Olympic campaigns Australia’s men have been unable to climb onto the medal podium –the women’s team has the second best track record of any country with a who’s who of the sport – Emma Snowsill (gold, 2008), Michellie Jones (silver, 2000), Loretta Harrop (silver, 2004), Emma Moffatt (bronze, 2008) and Erin Densham (bronze, 2012) all racing into the Olympic record books.

Australia, a country that has produced some of triathlon’s greatest men over the Olympic distance – namely world champions Greg Welch, Brad Bevan, Miles Stewart, Peter Robertson and Chris McCormack – all pioneers of swim, bike and run – but no Australian male has ever won that elusive Olympic medal in triathlon.

Greg Bennett came agonisingly closest in Athens in 2004– finishing fourth – while Stewart finished in a brave sixth place at his home Games in Sydney and that’s as close as the green and gold suits have been to the men’s podium.

But if Hauser gets his way, then that’s all going to change.

“I’ve got to be realistic and really believe that I can do it and I can be up there with the best in the world,” Hauser said.

“The fact that Australia has never won a medal in men’s triathlon at the Olympics is the kind of history I am taking on my shoulders, I really want to achieve that for Australia.

“Knowing that I am in a position to do really well is one of the things that is really pushing me towards Paris.

“I may not be the gold medal favourite but I’m throwing my hat in the ring and that eases the pressure a little bit as well.”

The 26-year-old made his Olympic debut in Tokyo, finishing 26th, in what was a disappointing campaign for Australia, with the best individual performance being Jake Birtwhistle’s 16th place. In the Mixed Relay, Australia finished ninth, nearly three minutes behind gold medallists Great Britain.

It was the second consecutive Games that Australia failed to win an Olympic medal.

Hauser came home ready to lead the national team back to the top, launching an immediate campaign for Paris and making necessary changes to make it happen.

“Tokyo wasn’t what we all wanted and that’s realistically a reflection of what it was and one thing that it definitely did do is make us stronger as a country,” Hauser said.

“I really do believe we came out of Tokyo knowing that we had to make some solid changes to be able to compete with the world’s best.

“I certainly took that under my wing and brought it back to my training environment and really just focused in and dialled in and my next results proved true to that preparation.

“One thing I learnt about Tokyo is you have to grab every opportunity with both hands and seize the moment; you can’t be looking back on your career going ‘damn, I wish I could have done this, and I could have done that.’

And his results speak for themselves, winning a World Triathlon Championship Series race in Montreal in 2023 and adding three podium finishes, his latest in Yokohama in May where he won silver in a race which also saw his 2018 Commonwealth Games teammate Luke Willian join him as the second automatic nomination on the team for Paris with his third-place finish.

The men it seems are turning the tide and Hauser has not shied away from the fact that he wants to be the man to lead the breakthrough – a key factor in what he says is triathlon’s “rising tide.”

“It’s great to show some consistency…continuing on from that throughout the three-year cycle; the Olympics is an event that you might only get the opportunity to go to a couple of times in your career,” Hauser said.

“It’s something that I want to do to bring back the focus on the Aussie, we have not been at our best on the biggest stage, it is such a European dominated sport right now. The one thing that can spark that is results on the world stage, for Australia.”

“I am following some of the legends of the sport in Australia and also the world. I am lucky enough to have some great relationships with a few of those guys and I know a few of the other guys as well.

“Part of the legacy that we want to continue to show case in Australia is to bring back our dominance to the sport of triathlon and for me it’s pretty cool to be in a position to do that.

“We have definitely been a swimming nation for a lot of these years now and athletics has taken a pretty strong path to achieve that as well and it’s great to see all the sports lifting with that rising tide – and we want to show case triathlon in the same light, a sport that we all love and give our lives for as well.”

Hauser is preparing for Paris with one of Australia’s most celebrated high-performance  coaches in Dan Atkins as they plot their path towards that famous landmark in the City of Light, believing they have a realistic shot at that Olympic podium.

And it was on Ben Waterworth’s Off The Podium Podcast, where Hauser spoke on going to Paris to win a medal that inspired coach Atkins himself, to take that by the scruff of the neck and own the Champs Elysees.

“When Matt spoke about the fact that the Aussie men had never won an Olympic medal in triathlon he owned it, and at first I was a little taken aback,” said Atkins.

“But I kept listening and I actually became inspired by what Matt was saying.

“He is someone who thrives on pressure and he sees that as a privilege, saying ‘I want to be the first Australian male to medal at an Olympics in the sport of triathlon.’

“Reinforcing that ‘I don’t want to avoid it; I know everyone is talking about it; I would rather put it out there front and centre. Of course I want a medal. That’s what I’m going there for.’

“Matt has medalled four times in the last two years in the World Triathlon Championship Series, so he is a major player. We all know that so let’s go for it.

“What an occasion it will be, we have everyone’s backing. Let’s do this, let’s go there are put it all on the line; let’s put it all on black!”

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