Automatic Commonwealth Games nomination on the line as elites gather on Gold Coast – Trizone
Sunday’s Oceania Cup sprint race for men and women over a 750m swim, 20km bike and five-kilometre run course will be the first of two automatic nomination races at the Commonwealth Games – next, the Yokohama World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) in May.
The winners of the men’s and women’s Elite races on Sunday will receive automatic Commonwealth Games Australia nomination for Team Birmingham.
And the female race is expected to be a messy affair with a slew of established stars facing an onslaught of young and newcomers.
Two veteran athletes, Natalie Van Coevorden and Charlotte McShane, and NSW Performance Center rising star Matilda Offord have been at the forefront of Oceania Cup races in Devonport and Mooloolaba this season, with Offord winning her first two career wins in the Elite business.
Offord, 22, started his season in electric form to break through for that first Elite victory at the Sprint distance course in Devonport with McShane second.
Before toppling Van Coevorden and McShane in a Standard Distance Mooloolaba Oceania Cup close race two weeks later to send a clear message that she will show up to the Gold Coast with races on the board – and catch me if you can attitude .
And waiting for them at the start line will be the Hedgeland sisters, Olympian Jaz and younger sister Kira, fresh from their pre-season training camp in Thredbo, as they tackle their first race of the season. ‘year.
It was a major change of direction for the sisters, moving from longtime coach Dan Atkins to the new Triathlon Australia Podium Center under head coach Joel Filliol.
After eight years with Atkins at the QLD Performance Center on the Gold Coast – the coach who took her to her first Olympics, Jaz felt it was time for a change – and she made the difficult decision to join the new Filliol group.
“The change has been really good. I was with Dan (Atkins) for eight years; I started with him right after competing in my first World Junior Championships in 2013 and he took me to my first Olympics,” said the eldest from Australia’s sister triathlon team.
“I’m so grateful for what we’ve been able to do together over these eight years, but after a lot of thinking last year, I felt it was time to make a change for me personally in order to make the most of it. best of myself.
“I felt like I needed some time off after my last race in Edmonton to hit a big reset button and a rebuild button and I’m really looking forward to seeing where I am this weekend. .”
Sunday will take a breather on the cobwebs, but Jaz knows it’s a long game.
“Hopefully this year will be a bit closer to normal and not affected by COVID and I really hope to be overseas for five or six months and regularly racing in the World Series,” Jaz said.
“So while this weekend is important, it’s the first step in a long series, so I just want to take it as a first building block as we prepare for the rest of this year.”
And the influence of Filliol?
“I have already learned a lot from him; a man who has coached many athletes to great heights; actually 95 World Series podiums among his athletes as well as world champions, Olympic champions,” Jaz said.
“I just wanted to learn; I want to learn as much as I can from him and those around him and I’m also excited over time, whatever I can learn from Joel.
Younger sister Kira, fourth at the Under-23 World Championships in Edmonton last September, is excited to get out and race and the first race of the season, she says, is always exciting.
“And what I’ve learned is don’t get too caught up in these things that aren’t quite right, it’s such a long game; there are so many races and so many opportunities,” said Kira.
“Sunday will present the potential of having something amazing of your own; your first big team, that would be absolutely amazing.
“But if it doesn’t happen, you also know there’s a higher chance and you just know it’s the start of the year.