THREE weeks after his release from hospital following his recovery from pneumonia and an abscess on his lung, emerging Australian triathlete Aaron Royle will return to racing in England this weekend at the British Sprint Championships in Liverpool.
The reigning ITU Under 23 World Champion has made a remarkable recovery from two nasty bacterial infections after first believing he would be going home “his European season well and truly over.
But a “slow and steady” recovery and return to training has convinced coach Jamie Turner and the Triathlon Australia High Performance team he is ready to return to racing.
A relieved Royle confirmed today he would join fellow Australian, training partner and London Olympian Brendan Sexton in the 68-strong men’s field that will line up in the 750m swim through the Queen’s and Wapping Docks, followed by a closed-roads city centre 20km cycle ride followed by a 5km run around Liverpool docks.
“I will definitely race Liverpool this weekend, more so to blow out the ‘cobwebs’ and kick start the body into racing mode again, but also to test my fitness,” said Royle, who is based with Turner’s Wollongong Wizards group in Spain’s Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country.
“The past 10 days I have slowly increased the intensity to now being back to normal. I have obviously lost a little bit of strength during my bed rest but I am actually quite surprised just how quickly I was able to get back into decent shape.
“It’s always hard to get that final five percent of your top end fitness back, but that is coming back and I can feel that returning each day.
“Intensity has been the last training adaptation to be introduced after the illness so we worked off that direction from the TA medical director and kept increasing the training load whilst keeping the intensity low and by week two I had almost reached a normal training load, albeit without intensity.”
Royle began with 20 minutes of light bike riding on rollers the day after he was released from hospital, gradually building up day-by-day.
“When I started training I wasn’t even sure I would be out of hospital, actually just the week before being released I thought that I would be going home, that my season would be over, so naturally any sort of training felt good,” said Royle.
“We took it really slow over the next week, which was good because I was in no shape to start doing any great mileage. I was still on heavy antibiotics and the bacterial infection was still present in my body.
“I remember going for my first run (with my girlfriend Holly) which was only 20 minutes. I was told that I couldn’t go over a certain heart rate and so in my 20 minutes I was lucky to average 7.5min per kilometre.
“At one stage Holly was able to walk and keep up with me. But still I was just happy to be out of hospital, running on the trails I was used to, enjoying the sun, which had finally appeared for the summer.”
Royle, who was eighth in the ITU WTS round in Madrid just a week before he fell ill, will be hoping to come through the British Championship unscathed as he prepares to join the Australian elite squad for the ITU WTS round in Hamburg (Sprint) on the weekend on July 20,21, which also includes the ITU Mixed Relay World Championship.
Also appearing in Liverpool will be 19-year-old Wollongong youngster Jake Montgomery who will line up in the junior men’s field and Charlotte McShane who will be the lone Australian in the senior women’s field.
Meanwhile Wollongong’s Xterra World Tour star Ben Allen will be the lone Australian in Saturday’s third ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships to be staged in The Hague-Kijkduin, in the Netherlands.
It has attracted over 650 athletes for the 1km swim, 26km mountain bike and 9km cross-country trail run, including reigning champions Lesley Paterson (GBR) and Conrad Stoltz (RSA) who will return to defend their titles on a unique course known for its choppy beach start and sandy bike and run trails.
The World Championships field includes athletes from a record breaking thirty different nations, including representatives from Brasil, Japan and Peru. Seaside resort Kijkduin, located in the southwestern part of The Hague, combines the superb facilities of an international city with a beautiful environment embodied by the ocean and dunes. Athletes will face unique challenges on the course, with the ocean start known for it’s choppy surf, followed by bike and run trails on soft sand.
ITU action this weekend will feature a host of Australians who will line up in the next round of the ITU World Cup Series in Palamos, Spain on Saturday with Ryan Fisher, Nick Kastelein, Marcel Walkington and Dylan Evans taking their place in a star-studded men’s field that includes Russians Dmitry and Igor Polyanskiy and Alexander and Andrey Bryukhankov, Italy’s Alessandro Fabian and Kyle Jones from Canada.
Five Australians, Natalie van Coevorden, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, Grace Musgrove, Tamsyn Moana-Veale and Ellie Salthouse will line up in the women’s race.