Queensland Commonwealth Games representatives Matt Hauser and Luke Willian and inform Sydney nursing graduate Emma Jeffcoat will headline Sunday’s Gold Coast Triathlon/Luke Harrop Memorial and Australian Sprint Championships at Southport.
The biggest domestic race on the Gold Coast is dedicated to the life and times of one of the Coast’s most talented and popular athletes, Luke Harrop, who, at just 23 on January 12, 2002, lost his life as the result of a traffic incident while on a warm-up ride in preparation for the second race of the 2002 Accenture Triathlon Series.
It will be a fitting return to racing for both Hauser and Willian, who along with Jake Birtwhistle (Tasmania) will make up an exciting, new-look Games men’s team for the Games April 5 opening event.
Sydney’s Jeffcoat, the former champion surf lifesaver, showed she is ready to tackle all comers after her impressive win to conquer last week’s Oceania Championships in Devonport, beating noted pair Natalie Van Coevorden (NSW) and Games girl Charlotte McShane (Victoria.)
Jeffcoat will be up against a host of emerging talent, including WA pair Jessica Claxton and Gold Coast-based Kira Hedgeland, 2014 Youth Olympic champion Brittany Dutton (QLD) and the talented Sophie Malowiecki (QLD).
The cream of Australia’s paratriathletes will also be in action, led by Paralympic gold medallist Katie Kelly (NSW) and fellow Rio team mates Bill Chaffey (NSW), Nic Beveridge (QLD) and Brant Garvey (WA), who all contested last week’s inaugural Paratriathlon World Cup in Devonport.
Sunday will also see the official announcement of the Australian paratriathlon team for the Commonwealth Games – all in the PTWC (Wheelchair) class.
Gold Coast-based Triathlon Australia High Performance and Paratriathlon coach Dan Atkins is excited about Sunday’s racing, that will also see the cream of Australia’s Age Groupers, chasing double points setting their sights on qualifying for the 2018 ITU World Championships, to be hosted on the Gold Coast in September.
Atkins said many of the athletes who competed in Devonport last weekend had recovered from the racing and travel and those who didn’t race can’t wait to join in the action.
“I know as far as Matt (Hauser) is concerned he is chomping at the bit to get into Sunday’s race,” said Atkins.
“He hasn’t raced since last September and with the countdown on for the Games, he is getting ready to rock.
“And I know from talking to coach Warwick Dalziel, that Luke (Willian) will be in the same boat.
“It will be a good benchmark with both the boys in the Luke Harrop as well as a host of the other boy’s keen to push it.
“Matt loves getting out and training with his mates every day and that’s what keeps him going and as for me I have to protect that youth and enthusiasm; that excitement of a boy who is still only 19.
“We have a great group and they are all doing it together and for each other.”
Hauser, originally from Hervey Bay, had a stellar year in 2017, winning the ITU World Junior Championship in Rotterdam and combining with Birtwhistle, McShane and Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle to win Australia’s first ever Mixed Teams Relay World Championship in Hamburg.
Willian, the Under 23 ITU World Championship bronze medallist in Rotterdam, had a hit out at the recent Burleigh-Swim-Run, winning the event for the second time on Australia Day and coach Dalziel couldn’t be happier with his progress.
“Luke has been working well on a lot of specific stuff and we’re looking forward to getting into race mode again,” said Dalziel.
“He had a good hit out at Burleigh and it was just at the right time but now it’s time to focus on putting his first race together.”
The 750m swim; 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run is the same Sprint Distance as the Games – for both the Elites and Paratriathletes.
This weekend will also feature the 2018 Australian National Cross Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships at Lake Crackenback on Saturday.
Australia’s number one Cross Triathlete Ben Allen and his wife Jacqui Allen (Great Britain) are the headline acts in the Elite fields.