It is a mouth watering encounter as some of the worlds best Ironman athletes toe the start line with ITU stars of the present and future at Australia’s most iconic Olympic distance race
Three-time Noosa Triathlon champion Courtney Atkinson has meticulously prepared for this year’s race after posting his worst result in the event in 2011 at the race he has made his own in recent years.
Â The dual Olympian claimed a hat-trick of wins in Australia’s most popular triathlon from 2008 â€“ 2010 and is determined to make up for last year’s 13thÂ place, to winner David Dellow.
Â Atkinson will have to overcome a wave of challenges from leading Ironmen, including newly crowned IRONMAN World Champion Pete Jacobs, former IRONMAN world champions Craig Alexander and Chris McCormack and Â David Dellow who finished 9thÂ onÂ debut in Kona earlier this month.
Â Atkinson will also have to hold off a charge from New Zealand’s best with veteran Kris Â Gemmell competing Â in his last event before retiring. Noosa was the New Zealanders first international race and feels it’s a fitting way to end his long career.
Â â€œI had a hit-out last weekend but it’s been nearly four months since I raced a non-drafting triathlon,â€ said Atkinson.
Â “I had a win but more importantly was happy with the feeling of all three legs.â€
Â Atkinson will be aiming for a fourth Noosa crown, edging closer to Craig Walton’s record six wins.
Â â€œI was just a young spectator at Noosa when Waldo started winning his titles and a massive fan of how he raced.
Â â€œIf you said to me back then that I would be racing to try and win my own fourth title it would be a dream. So this weekend I will go and chase after that dream as hard and smart as I can.
Â â€œTo have the Ironman champions, OlympiansÂ and the next wave of younger triathletes all competing in the same race is a great thing for the sport of triathlon in Australia. I wish it happened more often.
Â â€œWe just had some greatÂ success at the World Championships at the U23 male level and this weekend is their chance to step up.â€
Â Dellow has been making a name for himself since transitioning to the Ironman distance but his victory in Noosa last year was a special one for the Sunshine Coast resident.
Â “I’ve wanted to win the Noosa triathlon since I was 10-years-old, so to get the victory last year was definitely the proudest moment in triathlon for me. There will be plenty of competition in Noosa this year but I won’t be giving up the title without a fight.” Dellow said.
Â Alexander was hoping to claim a fourth IRONMAN World Championship crown earlier this month in Kona but didn’t have the race he was hoping for. The Sydneysider is looking forward to being able to race Noosa this year.
Â “I haven’t raced in Noosa since 2006. I was heading up to do some promotional work and thought I wouldn’t mind racing in one of the iconic events in our sport. My body feels good and I seemed to have recovered well from the race in Hawaii two weeks ago,â€ Alexander said.
Â â€œI am really looking forward to participating and not just watching this year.”
Â Defending Noosa Triathlon champion Melissa Hauschildt has sent out an ominous warning to her competitors, declaring she is back to her best form after an injury interrupted season.
Â The former IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion had a string of second places this year after recovering from a stress fracture diagnosed in June.
Â The 29-year-old has just started hitting good form with recent wins at IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta, where she produced the world’s fastest time this season over the distance, and IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah last weekend.
“It’s nice to be coming into shape now for the Australian season,” Hauschildt said.
“Everything came together at Mandurah. I felt really good on the run.â€
Hauschildt expects Caroline Steffen to be a threat after her second place at the world Ironman championships in Hawaii but hoping the Swiss Miss will be a little tired after the effort.
Â Former world Olympic distance junior champion Ashleigh Gentle will also pose a problem for Hauschildt and after puncturing at the ITU World Championships in Auckland is keen to end her season on a winning note.
Â “Since the start of the year it has been my aim to finish off my season on a high in Noosa. It is a very competitive field this year, although my ultimate goal is to take out the win in front of a home QLD crowd. There is also added incentive of Hy-Vee points to increase my motivation,” Gentle said.