Wollongong welcomes Australian Championships with Para, II, Junior, and Age Group events

16 Apr 2024

Wollongong is gearing up for an exhilarating weekend of triathlon as it plays host to a line-up of Australian Championships events, alongside the World Triathlon Cup Wollongong.

Amidst the excitement of the World Triathlon Cup, where fifteen Australian athletes will test their mettle against the world, the city will also play host to the Australian Para & II Championships, the Australian Junior Sprint Championships, and the Australian Age Group Standard Championships. 

Australian Para & II Championships
Saturday, April 20 – 7:30am AEST 

The Australian Para & II Championships will launch an action-packed weekend of racing, with Tokyo 2020 Paralympian and Paris 2024 hopeful, Sam Harding (PTVI), a standout on the start-list. 

Harding’s connection to Wollongong runs deeper than just racing. The Commonwealth Games silver medallist, resides in Canberra, a stone’s throw from Wollongong, while his guide, David Mainwaring, is a proud resident of the city itself. 

And while the Australian Championships may not directly impact Paralympic Qualification rankings, Harding will use Wollongong as a launchpad for his final push towards Paris, simultaneously using it to preview the challenges awaiting him at the 2025 World Triathlon Championship Finals. 

“Even though the Australian Championships won’t contribute for Paris qualification, it’s positioned at an ideal time before World Triathlon Para Series Yokohama so I’m keen to see how training has been progressing under race pressures,” Harding said. 

“On top of that it’s such a good opportunity to race in Wollongong and see what the course demands will be for next year’s World Championships.  

I was actually in Wollongong, training with Dave Mainwaring and Aaron Royle, when it was announced that they would host the World Championships, I was pretty excited. It’s pretty special to have at home. 

Teenage talents Matthew Engesser (PTS4) and Jack Gibson (PTS3) join Harding on the start list, eager to defend their Australian Championships titles in Wollongong.  

At just 16 years old, Engesser, a bronze medallist at the 2024 Oceania Triathlon Para Championships, showcases remarkable promise and skill in the sport. While 14-year-old Gibson, hailing from Shell Cove, will ride a wave of local support as he takes to the Wollongong course. 

The duo secured top honours at the 2023 Australian Championships held in Wyndham Harbour in December last year. 

In the Intellectual Impairment category, defending champions Cameron Marshall and Georgia Powning return to the fold, both determined to secure their fourth consecutive Australian Championship title. 

Building on their previous triumphs in Devonport in 2021, followed by wins on the Gold Coast in 2022 and Wyndham Harbour last year. 

For more information on the Australian Para & II Championships, click here.


Australian Junior Sprint Championships
Saturday, April 20 – 10:00am AEST 

Australia’s rising triathletes converge on Wollongong for the Australian Junior Sprint Championships, with stakes high and dreams of international representation on the line.  

A win in Wollongong could pave the way to representing Australia at the World Triathlon Junior Championships in Torremolinos-Andalucia, Spain, later this year. 

The Australian Junior Sprint Championships play a pivotal role in the selection process for the Australian team, with the first Australian over the line automatically qualifying for the Long List. 

Once on the Long List, athletes become eligible for potential selection onto the team. 

Aspen Anderson, Isla Watson, Grace Henry, Jack Woodberry, Jack Latham, and Chris Rudd have already secured their positions on the Long List following their performances at the Oceania Triathlon Junior Championships in Napier. 

The sextet’s top-five finishes in Napier secured Australia the maximum quota spots allocated for the World Triathlon Junior Championships, with three spots for male athletes and three for female athletes. 

With no roll down rule, any athlete aiming for automatic selection to the Long List will need to outperform those who have already secured their positions. 

That will certainly be a challenging task, particularly in the women’s race, where Queensland’s Aspen Anderson stands out as the clear favourite. 

The 17-year-old was outstanding in Napier, running away to secure the Oceania Triathlon Junior Championship, adding to the two Commonwealth Youth gold medals and Australian Junior Super Sprint title she claimed in 2023. 

Other contenders emerging in the women’s race include Isla Watson, who secured silver behind Anderson at the Oceania Triathlon Junior Championships in Napier. Commonwealth Youth Games representative Hannah Pollock from Queensland and New South Wales’ Alexandra Field, a 2023 World Triathlon Junior Championships representative, add depth to the promising field. 

Tasmanian Jack Woodberry will enter the men’s race as the favourite after his impressive victory at the Oceania Triathlon Junior Championship. The 16-year-old’s success in claiming the Australian Junior Super Sprint title in 2023 bolsters his credentials as a contender for top honours. 

Alongside Woodberry, his Tasmanian teammate Jack Latham, a dual Commonwealth Youth Games medallist, is another contender, whilr Victorian Oscar Wootton, also a Commonwealth Youth Games representative, strengthens the competitive field.  

New South Wales’ Mitchell Blackbourn, who grew up in Wollongong, will be among the race favourites having cut his teeth on variations of the course from a young age. 

The Kanahooka triathlete knows first-hand what it means to represent Australia at the World Triathlon Junior Championships, having achieved that feat last year. 

“It would mean a lot as I had the best experience racing in Hamburg last year and gained a lot of experience,” Blackbourn said. 

“After getting a taste for racing at that level overseas it’s given me the hunger to want to pursue it fulltime in the future.” 

Blackbourn is the defending Australian Junior Sprint Champion and will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins in front of a home crowd in Wollongong. 

“It would mean a lot especially seeing that my family and friends will be able to watch me race,” he said. 

“My extended family will be travelling down from Sydney to watch me race and all of my local team-mates, training partners and friends will be out supporting me as well. 

“It is exciting that the local triathlon community and Wollongong will get to experience the hype of what I got to experience in Hamburg last year.” 

To view the AusTriathlon Junior World Championships Selection Policy, click here.
For more information on the Australian Junior Sprint Championships, click here.


Australian Age Group Standard Championships
Sunday, April 21 – 7:00am AEST 

The weekend of racing in Wollongong culminates with the Australian Age Group Standard Championships, drawing in over 700 athletes eager to compete for national silverware. 

Alongside the pursuit of Australian Championship title, athletes will strive for a top-five finish in their age group, which secures automatic qualification for the 2024 Australian Age Group Triathlon Team for Torremolinos-Andalucia, Spain. 

In addition to the Australian Championship race, the Wollongong weekend will feature a variety of non-championship races such as Aquabike and Sprint event . These races offer athletes a chance to familiarise themselves with the course and conditions, providing valuable preparation for the upcoming World Triathlon Championship Finals set to be hosted in Wollongong next year. 

James Alexander, President of the Illawarra Triathlon Club, says enthusiasm for the weekend’s racing in Wollongong is at an all-time high amoung members.

“Enthusiasm from our club members is riding really high in anticipation for this year’s event, with a number of members aiming for that top step and National Championship title.” Alexander said.

“Community enthusiasm is really high too, with a lot of people outside of our club asking about the coming weekend’s races, who’s racing, where to watch from and how exciting it is for our city. 

“It is a really unique opportunity our club has been presented with. We’ve got international-level racing happening on our home roads that our members train of daily.
“As a club we are already seeing the impact through increased interest in people becoming involved with the club, more people asking how they get their kids started in triathlon, and a real increase in broader community enthusiasm and support for our club.
“My hope is that this fosters a real interest in triathlon as a great sport to get into and translates into a sustained increase in participation in triathlon and an increase in our membership, particularly at the kids and junior age group levels.”


To view the Australian Age Group Triathlon Team Selection Policy, click here.
For more information on the Australian Age Group Standard Championships, click here. 

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