A return to the winners list for London Olympian Brendan Sexton highlighted a successful weekend for Australia’s triathletes in Europe.
Sexton broke through for his first victory in 18 months to win the British Triathlon Sprint Championship (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) in Liverpool.
And he had to run down training partner and ‘comeback kid’, Aaron Royle, who three weeks ago was laid up in a Spanish Hospital, his season very much on the line â€“ to give Australia a winning quinella.
(Editor) We caught up with Brendan over coffee before he headed off from Wollongong to join his team mates who had already left for Vitoria in Spain. He had been battling a leg injury and hadn’t run for a while. Team Physio Alex Price gave him the all clear later that week and he booked his tickets. He mentioned during the chat that it would only take him a few weeks to be back to his normal pace on the run and that his big ‘A’ race this year was the WTS World Champs in London. The swim is also something Sexton had been specifically working on in Wollongong under coach Jamie Turner. He proved that he could get back to his top speed this weekend just gone. Look out London!
Then in the women’s race it was a stunning “catch me if you can” victory to Sexton’s girlfriend Charlotte McShane who also added the British title to give Australia the double.
Over in Spain their Wollongong Wizards team mate Tamsyn Moana-Veale claimed her first ever ITU World Cup podium â€“ taking out a close-up bronze in hot, oppressive conditions in Palamos.
Rounding off the results was a top ten finish to another Wollongong-based athlete â€“ Ben Allen, who claimed eighth place in the ITU World Cross Triathlon Championship in The Hague- Kijkduin, in the Netherlands.
Sexton, who will be one of six Australian men in this weekend’s ITU World Championship Series round in Hamburg, was delighted with his return to the winners circle.
â€˜It has been a long time between race wins for me and after some frustrating times this is more refreshing evidence that I’m again moving towards my lofty goals,â€ Sexton said.
â€œThe next big step of course will be in Hamburg in five days time for my first ITU WCS event of the year and I’ll admit I’m more than excited to be back mixing it with the best.â€
After exciting the water further back than he expected, Sexton admitted he had to give his younger rivals a little friendly encouragement to ensure â€œa productive group effortâ€ in the second bike pack as they worked together to hunt down the leaders.
â€œThe younger guys were extremely responsive and by the end of the 20km bike leg we had whittled the gap down to less than 15 seconds by the transition into the run,â€ he said.
â€œI caught Aaron (Royle) with around three kilometres to go and I was able to feed off the enthusiastic crowd to extend my lead towards the finish.â€
Royle was determined to leave nothing on the road after his remarkable recovery from pneumonia and an abscess on his lung caused by two nasty bacterial infections and in typical fashion was fourth out of the water and then fought back to grab second place towards the finish.
â€œI wanted to race Liverpool just like I would any other race, which is going hard from start to finish,â€ said Royle.
â€œI didn’t want to save energy here or there knowing that I may not be in top shape; I needed this race to kick-start the body back into racing and I was feeling a little sore and tired after completing my first week with intensity since being released from hospital.
â€œMore than anything I just wanted to push myself over the entire race . I was pretty spent but content that I had done what I set out to do and that was to make the race as hard as possible for myself, despite feeling ordinary in all three disciplines.
â€œI don’t think I have ever started a run feeling so awful. It felt as though I was running through quicksand with a heart rate of 300, but it soon settled down after one kilometre and I was able to get into a rhythm.
â€œâ€œIt was the perfect race to test myself over the sprint distance before next week’s big race in Hamburg.â€