2016 Olympian in waiting Aaron Royle heads 10-strong Elite World Championship Team for Chicago

AARON ROYLE RIO(1) (1280x864)

Aaron Royle, triathlon’s first Olympic nomination for Rio, will be joined by established Olympians Erin Densham, Emma Moffatt, Emma Jackson and Courtney Atkinson in Australia’s ITU World Championship team in Chicago next month.

Royle is amongst a 10-strong Elite team and five in the Under 23s who will join the already selected six-member Junior team for the Chicago Worlds between September 16 and 20.

The 25-year-old from Newcastle finished sixth in the Olympic Test Event in Rio at the start of the month to earn his automatic nomination onto his first Olympic Team.

Chicago will present another opportunity for the Australians to press their claims for next year.

The Elite team for Chicago is: Aaron Royle (NSW), Ryan Bailie (WA), Ryan Fisher (VIC), Courtney Atkinson (QLD), Emma Moffatt (QLD), Emma Jackson (QLD), Gillian Backhouse (QLD), Ashleigh Gentle (QLD), Erin Densham (NSW), Charlotte McShane (NSW).

The Under 23s team is: Jake Birtwhistle (TAS), Declan Wilson (ACT), Matt Baker (NSW), Natalie Van Coervorden (NSW), Kelly Ann Perkins (QLD).

The Junior Team is: Brittany Dutton (QLD), Sophie Malowiecki (QLD), Matthew Hauser (QLD), Luke Willian (QLD), Calvin Quirk (QLD), Christian Wilson (QLD).

Royle, who hails from Newcastle but who trains in Wollongong, Falls Creek and now in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain admits it is time to “get his hands dirty again” in the countdown to the World Championships.

He will line up in the WTS round in Stockholm this weekend, as will Bailie, Birtwhistle and Fisher in the men and McShane, Densham, Backhouse, Jackson and Van Coevorden in the women.

“I am relieved and very satisfied to tick that Olympic selection box but 2015 isn’t over and I have Chicago on my mind before heading back to Australia for the summer,” said Royle.

Chicago is a happy hunting ground for Australia’s 2013 Under 23 world champion Charlotte McShane.

“This will be my fifth Worlds team, having represented Australia in U23’s 3 times, and elite once last year in Edmonton,” said McShane, who sits in 13th on the WTS rankings behind Moffatt (ninth) and Gentle (12th).

“I’m really looking forward to Chicago, I was fortunate enough to race there last year and finish 10th, so I’m hoping to go back and have another good result.”

Atkinson, at 36, is a mainstay on the Australian Triathlon team and remains the last Australian to win a World Junior title back in 1999.

“It’s exciting for me to be back involved with the Australian team again,” Atkinson said, said dual Olympian Atkinson

“There’s a lot of history that goes along before us when the Australian Triathlon Team is thought about.

“Without a ‘single day World Championship’ in the seniors anymore I see the major opportunity with team involvement is being there for the Juniors and U23s who have their chance to shine.

“I hope my experience can somehow be drawn upon.

“Personally, my focus is solely on the direction of aiming for Rio Olympics Games.

“There are things in my racing I am trying to improve to give myself every opportunity to be in Rio next year and to be very competitive. It is exciting as it has been all year to be back racing in the green and gold.”

Right alongside Royle and Atkinson will be Bailie, Australia’s most consistent performing male athlete, who survived a spectacular bike crash in Rio to recover and finish 14th.

“My Goals for Chicago are to firmly keep myself inside the top 10 for the World Triathlon Series for the year, “said Bailie, who is the highest ranked Australian in seventh.

“If things go my way and the processes on race day are followed there is no reason why I can’t be up at the pointy end of the field.

“It’s been my most consistent year on the circuit with a 14th being my worst result.”

Gentle will skip Stockholm this weekend to race in Edmonton before Chicago.

“It’s always a privilege to be named on another Senior Elite team and I look forward to joining the whole team in Chicago in September,” said Gentle.

“My first Worlds team was in 2007 as a Junior, and my first senior Elite representation was in 2012 and although there is the WTS, the Grand Final is still a special event and one which is still a focus for many, including myself.”

For Van Coevorden, Chicago will be her fourth Australian World Championship team and her final as an under 23.

“A goal for me would be not only going into the race wanting to win a medal for Australia but being able to execute key processes physically and mentally to get me there,” said Van Coevorden.

“Getting selected to represent Australia in 2015, has been my goal since returning from (hip) surgery this year.

“It is something to work hard for throughout the year as it is always an honour to represent your country in the green and gold at a World Championship.

“2015 hasn’t come easy and I think every challenge has made me a better athlete and person to strive to a higher level. Like any athlete my plans are to kept healthy and injury free with a few weeks consistent training in my base in Vitoria Gasteiz.”

Meanwhile Queensland’s Christian Wilson has been added to the Australian Junior team following the unfortunate withdrawal of Matthew Roberts through injury.

Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.