Australian Olympian Brendan Sexton is the latest in a string of high-profile elites to join in the fray at the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship triathlon this Saturday at Callala Beach in New South Wales.
There’s been a lot of attention for this particular event recently and I happen to spend some time with quite a few of the other age group and pro competitors,â€ said Sexton.Â â€œI figured if there’s one of the best assembled XTERRA fields of 2014 having a race just down the coast from home (Wollongong) why not jump in for some experience.Â I am in the early stages of my ITU season but I am currently doing some heavy bike and run work so the mountain biking and trail running fits in well.â€
Sexton joins London Olympics teammate Courtney Atkinson and fellow Wollongong-based XTERRA star Ben Allen in what is certain to be an epic battle of â€œAussies Against The World” in a stellar field that includes the South African trio of Conrad â€œthe Cavemanâ€ Stoltz, Dan Hugo, and Brad Weiss; plus Kiwis Braden Currie and Olly Shaw; Europeans Brice Daubord from France and Roger Serrano from Spain, Philippines Champ Joe Miller, and American Craig Evans.
â€œIt’s very exciting to have a high quality XTERRA event so close to home, and I’d be kicking myself if I had the opportunity to race and let it go,â€ said Sexton.Â â€œWhile I’m far from prepared (I’ll be on a borrowed bike from my local Wollongong bike shop), I do like to spend some time off-road. Off-road triathlon is something I follow closely and something I would like to take more seriously down the track. Â I’m extremely pumped to get out there and see how I fair against the real XTERRA boys!â€
XTERRA President Janet Clark, a Canberra native living in Hawaii where XTERRA headquarters is based, is thrilled to see the locals come out in force to support one of the sports’ marquee events.
â€œAustralia is the multisport capitol of the world.Â It’s part of our culture and lifestyle, from the time we’re little kids to old timers we’re out there in the ocean and on the land, and doing it better than anyone else.Â It’s great to see all these world-class athletes coming out to the beautiful South Coast to give it a go.â€
Stoltz â€“ a 7x World Champion who has won an unprecedented four XTERRA World Championship titles and three straight ITU Cross Tri World titles, just won the XTERRA New Zealand Championship race in Rotorua on April 12.
â€œMy last triathlon in Australia was the Sydney Olympics so it will be interesting to see how the hotbed of triathlon embraces XTERRA now,â€ said Stoltz, a two-time Olympian from Stellenbosch, South Africa.Â â€œI love the sport, am extremely passionate about it and doing my best to help it advance globally.â€
The women’s elite field just added Olympians Nicky Samuels of New Zealand and Flora Duffy of Bermuda.
Samuels, the reigning XTERRA World Champion who is a perfect 3-for-3 in her XTERRA career, is coming off a strong performance at the ITU WTS opener in Auckland on April 6 where she led off the bike.
Duffy, who was third at XTERRA Worlds last year, won the XTERRA South Africa Championship in February and dominated the competition at the XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada last Sunday.
â€œI was keen to race Australia before the XTERRA West Championship but after that performance and how I felt, I had to book my flight and go to Australia,â€ said Duffy, after posting the fastest swim, bike, and run splits at the U.S. Pro Series opener.
The pair are joining an already stellar cast that includes this year’s XTERRA Philippines and Guam Champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland, the XTERRA Great Ocean Road Champ Jacqui Slack of Great Britain, and the XTERRA Saipan Champion Carina Wasle of Austria.Â Combined, those five have won seven of the nine XTERRA World Tour Championship races this season.
â€œIt’s simply impossible to predict who will win these races because we have so many wild cards in the field,â€ said Dave Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA World Tour.Â â€œChamps from road tri coming out to give it a go, Olympians, we got the first and third place women’s finishers from Worlds last year, and at least a dozen racers that are hot right now.Â It’s going to be a great show.â€
High-profile local racers including defending IM Australia Champion Rebecca Hoschke, ITU standout Penny Hosken, and rookie elite Dimity-Lee Duke.Â Showing them the way will be Aussie legend Jody Mielke, who won the first-ever XTERRA Championship race in Asia at the 2000 Japan Championship.
Others of note for the women include Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand, who won the 25-29 division XTERRA World Title in 2011, and four-time XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey.
The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is the marquee event on XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour that includes races in New Zealand, Philippines, Australia, Saipan, Guam, and Malaysia.
â€œIt’s so exciting to be involved in a thrilling, adrenalin pumping & action packed sport such as XTERRA,â€ said Allen.Â â€œI’m â€œstokedâ€ as we say in Australia, to showcase my backyard and share the natural beauty of our culture, landscape, and laid back lifestyle to a big, diverse field of international triathletes.â€
Name (Alphabetical) – Age, Hometown
Ben Allen â€“ 29, North Wollongong, NSW, Australia
Mitchell Anderson – 38, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Courtney Atkinson – 34, Mermaid Waters, Queensland, Australia
Braden Currie â€“ 27, Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
Brice Daubord â€“ 28, Orleans, Loiret, France
Craig Evans – 36, Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA
Dan Hugo â€“ 28, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Todd Israel – 38, Woolloomooloo, NSW, Australia
Joshua Kenyon – 20, Taupo, New Zealand
Jarad Kohler â€“ Newport, Australia
Joseph Miller – 34, Baranggay Pajac, Lapu Lapu, Philippines
Alex Reithmeier – 31, Loftus, NSW, Australia
Roger Serrano – 23, Barcelona, Spain
Branden Sexton â€“ Wollongong, Australia
Olly Shaw – 22, Rotorua, New Zealand
Conrad Stoltz â€“ 40, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Bradley Weiss – 25, Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa
Noah Wright – 39, Tasmania, Australia
Name (Alphabetical) – Age, Hometown
Renata Bucher â€“ 36, Lucerne, Switzerland
Mieko Carey – 35, Tokyo, Japan
Flora Duffy â€“ 26, Hamilton, Bermuda
Dimity-Lee Duke – 30, Roelands, WA, Australia
Rebecca Hoschke – 37, Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
Penny Hosken – 26, Ringwood North, Victoria, Australia
Jody Mielke – 42, Engadine, NSW, Australia
Elizabeth Orchard â€“ 28, Auckland, New Zealand
Nicky Samuels â€“ 31, Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
Jacqui Slack â€“ 30, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Carina Wasle â€“ 29, Kundl, Austria