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Aussie triathletes set to impress in Sydney

13 April 2012

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The birthplace of Olympic triathlon in 2000, Sydney is being transformed into a picturesque course in and around Farm Cove, Circular Quay, the Royal Botanical Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

In the ultimate hit-out to impress Australian Olympic selectors, Australia’s defending Olympic women’s champion Emma Snowsill and Beijing bronze medallist, Emma Moffatt lead the who’s who for Australia.

They are joined by members of generation next, Australian young guns and Oceania champions, Brendan Sexton and Emma Jackson, Beijing Olympians Brad Kahlefeldt and Erin Densham, and ironman champion Chris McCormack.

Saturday’s opening round will see the 140 competitors (71 males and 69 females) dive into Sydney Harbour, next to the iconic Opera House with the women starting at 7.36am and the men at 10.36am. And apart from kicking off the eight-event season in style in Sydney, most competitors will have one thing on their minds – London 2012.

Some like Aussies Moffatt and Kahlefeldt have earned pre-nomination but others will take the plunge into the famous Harbour knowing it will present an ideal opportunity to seal their places.

It will present the first time the three Emmas - Snowsill, Moffatt and Jackson have lined up in the same race in Australia since the corresponding race last year. All three are at different stages of their preparations with Moffatt already lodging an early season win at the Australian Sprint Championship in Geelong; Jackson a win in the OTO Oceania Championships in Devonport and Snowsill who will line up for her first race of the season.

Throw in ITU Mooloolaba World Cup winner Erin Densham along with former ITU World junior champions Ashleigh Gentle and Felicity Abram and the race for the remaining two places on the Australian team for London has never been hotter.

Snowsill arrived home from her South African training base for the Mooloolaba World Cup but was laid low by a virus which forced her last minute withdrawal.

But the reigning Olympic champion and three time world champion has bounced back with some encouraging training sessions over the last 10 days but is not getting too far ahead of herself.

“I enjoy the adrenalin of these big races and I see each of these races becoming more and more important in the lead up to a really big year,” said Snowsill.

“At the moment I am just looking forward to putting my best foot forward to the start of my season on Saturday.”

Moffatt admits the Olympic selection pressure may be off but it is still a big race.

“August is certainly the main aim for this year but I still want to have some really good races this year,” said Moffatt.

“I am approaching Sydney like any other World Series Race. There is still a World Championship up for grabs at the end of the year so all these races are very important.

“I have changed coaches to train under Craig Walton, who was my coach in 2009 so that’s the main thing that has changed for me over the last 12 months.”

Jenkins focused her attentions on Olympic qualification at last year’s London Triathlon and she achieved her goal.

“Racing on the home front last year was my main aim for the year and to actually achieve my goal at a home event was amazing and the pressure was on for that event.

“It is going to be nothing compared to 2012 and all of these races this year are the build up for August.”

The men’s race will see three of the biggest names in triathlon line up places on the Olympic team – Australia’s 38-year-old Chris McCormack who will be looking to make his Olympic debut; Sydney 2000 gold medallist Simon Whitfield at 37 and New Zealand’s duel Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty at 35, chasing a place on his third Olympic team.

And a host of young guns like Sexton, who showed with his win in the OTU Oceania Championship in Devonport (and guaranteeing a spot for Australia) that he means business.

“Winning in Devonport probably doesn’t hurt my chances of being selected on the team,”said Sexton, “it’s been a good start to the season.

“I’ve kept the approach this year, the same as last year; but I’ve learnt a lot from that experience and have prepared this year to keep on building.

“Sydney is a priority race for me; being in Australia and being part of the World Series.”

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