Triathlon’s man-of-the-moment Peter Kerr called on all his skills as a surf lifesaver in Warnambool to set up his third major victory in three months to take out Saturday’s OTU Oceania Sprint Distance Triathlon Championship in Devonport.
The 24-year-old Victorian won a thrilling sprint finish to add the Oceania title to his victories in the Australian Sprint distance Championship in Geelong and the Noosa Olympic Distance Title late last year.
Kerr stormed home after reveling in the choppy one-metre surf cond
itions that were more suited to Australia’s best Ironmen and Ironwomen and not Australia’s budding triathletes.
But Kerr rubbed his hands with glee when he arrived at the Devonport Surf Life Saving Club to see the kind of conditions he grew up in a Warnambool.
He came out of the water in the leading group and after hanging tough on the bike survived an â€œup and downâ€ run with Ryan Bailie, Dan Wilson, Jamie Huggett, Ryan Fisher and Marcel Walkington and to charge away over the final 500 metres for a spirited victory.
Bailie, who was never afraid to lead on the bike and the run, hung on to take second with a revitalised Huggett claiming a well deserved third ahead of Queenslander Declan Wilson with Dan Wilson notching a confidence-boosting fifth after a horror run with injuries.
It was Dan Wilson (30 minutes) who clocked the fastest bike ride over the 20kilometre course ahead of Bailie (30.10) and Fisher (30.18).
While noted track runner, Canberra’s Declan Wilson clocked the fastest 5km run split of 15 minutes 26 ahead of Kerr (15:45) and Huggett (15.52).
It was Under 23s ITU World Champion Aaron Royle who led the field out of the swim followed by Walkington, Kerr and Fisher with London Olympian and Brendan Sexton a close up fifth.
Sexton, who has gone back to basics in the pool under coach Jamie Turner, came to Devonport â€œto swimâ€ and was surprised to get a first up encouraging result although admitting the waves did help.
It was also encouraging to see Dan Wilson and Jamie Huggett back in the mix after both athletes had struggled with injuries and illness over the past 12 months. Their presence will no doubt bolster the depth in a rejuvenated men’s program.
Kerr, who will now set his sights on races in Wellington, Mooloolaba, Auckland and San Diego said the winning feeling was something he could certainly get used to.
â€œIt’s a habit I’d like to keep â€“ to bolster the CV is a good thing,â€ said Kerr, who has his 2013 sights on the ITU World Championships in London and his long term goal, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
â€œWe are developing a great new culture among our men and there’s ten guys who have the calibre to go all the way and it’s 100 percent my goal to go to the next Olympics.
â€œOur top men may well come from different States but we are all on the Australian team coming to these events and supporting each other and patting each other on the back.â€
Smith Coached Stimpson Survives Surf To Win
Meanwhile Canberra-based British athlete Jodie Stimpson won the women’s race in an all international podium, with Wollongong-based American Gwen Jorgensen taking second ahead of Irish Olympian Aileen Reid (nee Morrison) third.
Jorgensen’s Australian training partner from the Jamie Turner stable, Charlotte McShane, was the first Australian home after an eye-catching run of 18 minutes 01Â – bettered only by Stimpson (17.19) and Jorgensen (17.25).
Queensland’s Maddy Allen lapped up the surf conditions to emerge from the surf over a minute ahead of Reid, Jorgensen and Stimpson, with McShane 1:46 down coming into T1.
Stimpson revealed that Reid â€œhad done some lifesavingâ€ so she was sticking with her but there were times where she didn’t know whether she was after being tossed around like a cork.
The Birmingham born Brit is loving her Canberra-training base with noted Australian coach Darren Smith, who has re-built his international group, including Germany’s 2012 ITU Grand Final winner from Auckland Anne Haug, Reid and Australian boys Cameron Good (NSW) and Declan Wilson (ACT).
â€œI love the training and the environment and it’s an exciting time after the disappointment of missing the Olympics,â€ said Stimpson, â€œit is all geared towards heading back to London for the World Championships in September, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then Rio for the Olympics.â€
Hedgeland And Birtwhstle Continue On Winning Ways
In the Australian Junior Championships, Australian Youth Olympic Festival gold medallists Jaz Hedgeland and Jacob Birtwhistle continued on their winning ways to put themselves in the box seat for selection on the Australian team for this year’s ITU World Championships in London.
Western Australian Hedgeland, admitting she was â€œall at seaâ€ in the choppy surf conditions, was surprised but delighted to come from the second pack on the bike to run down a brave Holly Grice after a neck-an d-neck battle with defending champion and former ITU World Junior Champion, Mikayla Nielsen from New Zealand.
Grice came out of the swim just behind the leaders, New Zealand pair Elise Salt (One Tree Hill) and Nicole van der Kaay (Taupo) with Laura Cook (NSW), Brittany Forster (QLD) and Grice in the second group.
But as the bike unfolded it was Grice who took the reins with a braved solo breakaway, arriving at T2 in 33 minutes 15 secs â€“ almost a minute ahead of Nielsen and Hedgeland (who lost her timing transponder in the swim).
Hedgeland admitted there were times when she didn’t think could make up the leeway from the second bike group.
â€œI’m just really happy that I was able to make that time up and I k new I just had to keep going and to try and catch that first group on the last lap,â€ Hedgeland said.
â€œThen on the run I got a surprise when I saw out of the corner of my eye that Mikayla stopped in the penalty box area (10 seconds for a late dismount on the bike) and it was a signal to take off after Holly.â€
Hedgeland found another gear to race away over the final stages to beat Nielsen with Grice a deserved bronzed medallist ahead of Van DerKaay, Stephanie Boehm (WA), 16-year-old Cook from Wauchope, Forster, Laura Dennis, Tarni Cunningham and Salt.
Luckless AYOF test event winner Jodie Duff was an early exit from the race on the bike with a flat tyre.
Birtwhistle, the boy from Launceston, said he was also far from at home in the surf, coming out of the water in 13th place.
He slowly but surely worked his way through the field â€“ coming from the second bike pack to put himself within striking distance for his specialist run leg.
But he knew the 5km run wasn’t going to be easy with the Kieran Barry coached Matt Baker from the NSW Central Coast, setting a hot pace on the run.
Eighteen-year-old Birtwhistle, who again suffered from a cold in the lead up to the race, clocked the fastest run split of 15.39 (the second fastest of the day behind Declan Wilson in the Elites).
Birtwhistle took off on the final kilometre to reel Baker in and sprint away with the Australian Junior title and set himself up to lead the Australian Junior team for London in September, with Baker hold second and Sam Ward (NZL) third.
â€˜I was worried about Matt (Baker) I knew he had been running really well and I just kept focus because I knew it would go down to the wire,â€ said Birtwhistle.
â€œBut it was great to have the support here in Devonport with my family and friends cheering me on and to know that I am off to London for the World Championships is great â€“ it has been a big focus.â€
Birtwhistle will have a busy month following his selection in the Australian Junior Cross Country Championships in Poland next month.
Birtwhistle has Rio in 2016 in his long term sights and with the Relay event added to the 2016 program over the Sprint Distance he believes he has that extra string to his bow.
2013 DEVONPORT TRIATHLON RESULTS
2013 OUT Sprint Triathlon Oceania Championships
P Kerr (Vic)
R Bailie (WA)
J Huggett (Vic) Under 23
Declan Wilson (ACT) Under 23
Dan Wilson (QLD) Under 23
R Fisher (QLD)
B Sexton (NSW)
C Good (NSW)
A Royle (NSW)
M Walkington (VIC) Under 23
J Stimpson (GBR)
G Jorgensen (USA)
A Reid (IRE)
C McShane (NSW) Under 23
G Backhouse (QLD) Under 23
G Musgrove (NSW) Under 23
N Van Coevorden (NSW) Under 23
C Turner (QLD) Under 23
E Salthouse (QLD) Under 23
M Allen (QLD)
2013 Australian Junior Triathlon Championships (ITU World Championship Selection Races)
J Birtwhistle (TAS)
M Baker (NSW)
S Ward (NZL)
L Willian (QLD)
J Montgomery (NSW)
C Wilson (QLD)
T Reid (NZL)
J Thyer (WA)
M Nielsen (NZL)
H Grice (QLD)
N Van Der Kaay (NZL)
S Boehm (WA)
L Cook (NSW)
B Forster (QLD)
L Dennis (QLD)
T Cunningham (NSW)
E Salt (NZL)