By Aaron Royle
I remember sitting in what was practically a summer blizzard in Falls Creek chatting about the Olympic selection criteria with Bernard Savage, our Performance director. From then on Rio qualification was the main focus for the year.
At times it has been a testing year mentally and physically. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous that I would make the start line in good shape â€“ but with help from some incredible support network and especially our 2 physio’s in Vitoria, Dean and Alex I was able to hit the start line with some confidence in my prep.
The swim in Rio was different to a lot of ITU swims these days. Beach start, choppy ocean water and a one lap swim. I thought those 3 factors would suit my swimming style and I was happy to see that by the first buoy I was in the first handful. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful as I sat in 5th spot with Varga / Schoeman setting a solid pace up front. I moved off the feet as we neared shore and moved slightly forward as I prepared for the run up the beach and into T1.
There was much talk about a very tough bike course in Rio and whilst it may have had a bit more hype than it deserved it was definitely a tough course with a high chance of a small group off the front. I didn’t dare look back at the start of the bike to see where others were; I just concentrated on helping our lead group work well together to establish a group off the front. Those first few kilometres are always so vital in making a lead from the swim stick in the bike. I was a little worried for the first couple of laps when a lot of guys either couldn’t or wouldn’t roll turns in our group â€“ it felt very disorganised for a little while. After a couple of laps it settled down a little bit and our group of 9 were able to roll very smoothly and increase our lead with each lap. I am still unsure of what gap we had off the bike but I know that it was between 1-2 minutes.
Read Aaron’s full report here.