Australian Pros make up 22% of the field at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships

If Triathlon Australia ever needed evidence of where it's focus should be the pro start list at the World 70.3 champs speaks very loudly. 22% of the pro field are Australians with 13 of the 46 men and 4 of the 29 females. Of course developing our your talent, which is part of TA's role [

If Triathlon Australia ever needed evidence of where it’s focus should be the pro start list at the World 70.3 champs speaks very loudly. 22% of the pro field are Australians with 13 of the 46 men and 4 of the 29 females. Of course developing our your talent, which is part of TA’s role in the sport means that ITU style racing is important as the elite youth of the sport cannot do long course triathlons for obvious reasons. We have a number of women not racing who could easily be in this field as well. Women like Keat, Gailey (Mitchell), Crowley, Bevilaqua, Sym, could easily sit in this field. (apologies to any we didn’t mention)

The problem with writing a preview is that this year, like most, Australians have dominated podiums in the US 70.3 season. Almost all Australians racing this weekend could be on the podium if they have a perfect day. Of course with triathlon ‘a perfect day’ is the holy grail.

Australians are the current champions with Craig Alexander and Melissa Hauschildt winning the 2011 titles. Both will be defending their titles this weekend. In addition a number of other Australians will be top contenders for the title.

Craig Alexander, Michael Raelert, Joe Gambles, Greg Bennett, Bevan Docherty and Andy Potts are the obvious favourites. There wouldn’t be much dispute about this. It will come down to who can perform in the heat and who wants this title more.

We will see a lot of Clayton Fettell in the swim and bike legs of the race and if he has his run legs he could still be there towards the end and who knows… he may pull it off. Possible but he has his work cut out. Along with Fettell another Australian is expected to be alongside him. Paul Ambrose, as with Fettell, likes to race one way, from the front. Ambrose and Fettell equally have one of the best swim / bike combos in the sport. They both can run as well but there are a number of faster runners racing this weekend. It will remain to be seen if they can put a gap on the field. A big ask as this is one seriously hot field.

Alexander came here last year and clinically disposed of the field. This year has been a very different schedule with Melbourne throwing up a bit race early in the year, which Crowie won of course. Since then he has had a few hitouts with various results. With Crowie you can’t read much in to the misses as he is such a seasoned professional that when the big race comes along he will go to another gear.

Probably the favourite Australian male is Joe Gambles. Joe Gambles is in red hot form and aside from Crowie will be the male most will be keeping an eye on. Gambles has had some solid wins this season including a recent close one with fellow Aussie Leon Griffin with Gamble pulling away on the run. His devastating run will be the key in this field but his race will be set up with his swim and bike.

Greg Bennett will also be one of the favourites. He has shown this year that the 70.3 distance suits him perfectly. With a second behind Lance Armstrong at Hawaii this year in a very fast time plus some other top podium finishes he could be one to create an upset.

Melissa Hauschildt has not had the run miles that she wanted this year. There was an effort to get ready to race Ironman Cairns which was derailed when she suffered foot problems. Hauschildt was keen to have a tilt at Kona this year as her plans for the next four years would make it more difficult to focus on Ironman. Still with limited running Hauschildt has still put the fear in to the female fields (and a lot of the male fields) and last week at Hy-Vee she showed that with a little more distance in the race she is back to her best. A good takeaway from last weekend was that the usual gap she gives the strong swimmers has been pegged back in her favour a bit. For someone from a non-swimming background she has shown what a gritty athlete she is.

Doing all they can to finish ahead of Hauschildt are a number of the world’s fastest long distance triathletes including Australian Mirinda Carfrae. Carfrae is one of the fastest long distance runners in the game. The current World number two Ironman Champion will be in perfect form with only weeks to go until Kona. The women that Carfrae and Hauschildt need to worry about are Kelly Williamson, Angela Naeth, Jodie Swallow (back to her old self), Leanda Cave and Heather Wurtle.

Aside from these leading females Australian Lisa Marangon will be flying under the radar. Marangon has always been known as a very fast swim / biker and now with some run speed she could be a surprise dark horse. One of the things that has often plagued Marangon has been getting her stars aligned. With her new found training regime, a focus on racing with a 100rpm on the bike and what looks like a much better run we could see her at least in the top ten. Marangon won the Yeppoon 70.3 a couple of weeks ago in very warm temperatures.

Speaking of warm temperatures Michelle Wu has been living in Darwin for most of the Australian winter and and with a short stint in Sedona with the D-Squad and with coach Darren Smith in her corner Wu will also be a top ten contender. Wu has one of the faster runs around and Smith now her coach it will be interesting to see what Wu can produce. Wu likes her races hot and tough and we think she will be a surprise this weekend barring any mechanicals.

In case you have been living under a rock, Australian coach Darren Smith is the coach of Olympic silver medalist and Hy-Vee winner Lisa Norden. He also coaches Olympic number four female Sarah Groff. In fact of the 6 triathletes he coaches who were vying for Olympic berths all made it to London.

The mention of the D-Squad brings up Bart Aernouts. Aernouts was a champion duathlete who under Smith has learnt to swim (and much more). Aernouts is an athlete that is at the beginning of his long course triathlon career but is packed with talent. Maybe not a top 10 place but could be a surprise packet with Darren Smith in his corner.

Back to the full time Aussies and next one the list is Tim Reed. Reed is a self confessed cooler climate racer. He does not perform in the extreme heat. As one of the faster bike / run exponents even in the heat in Vegas Reed will still push the guys at the front. As always he will give a little in the swim and fight his way back on the bike to set himself up to apply his lethal run and hopefully bag a podium. Reed will be racing in his customary budgy smugglers. Reed wears these for two reasons. One is that anyone that knows Reed knows he is old school and loves the history of the sport. Secondly everyone needs a USP to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. The budgies is Reeds.

Josh Amberger will also be a top contender after his classy performance at Hy-Vee last weekend. Amberger finished 7th overall at Hy-Vee in one of the best fields assembled this year. Amberger will be a leader out of the water, will have a strong bike and will havehis work cut out on the 21.1km run against some of the best in the business.

Another Aussie who can match it with the fastest in each three legs is Christian Kemp. Kemp could put in one of the fastest run times and has shown this year that he can also be in the front swim pack and match it on the bike with the best. What we haven’t seen from Kemp is him put together all three legs at the pace that we know he can do. If he does then he will be a serious contender.

Paul Matthews has consistently podiumed this year and last week pulled of a tenth place in a stella field at Hy-Vee. Matthews is one of our leading 70.3 racers in the US and year in and year out he is in the money at most of the big races. Matthews also races in the 5150 series regularly and has some good speed because of this.

Another top Australian 70.3 performer this year is Richie Cunningham. Cunningham races predominantly in the Rev3 series and is currently the overall leader in the series. He has performed at the top end for a number of years and has previously finished 3rd and 5th twice at the 70.3 world champs. After racing for almost 15 years as a pro the Queenslander has built up an impressive resume. This year he has won 3 Rev3 halves, had two seconds at 70.3 races and a 3rd at Panama 70.3.

Leon Griffin has been back to his best this year after   taking a year off last year. Even though he was officially back in a day job he did manage to pull of a few good results including winning the Challenge Cairns Half, Shepparton Half and Falls Creek Long Course. Not bad for a full time desk jockey. This year Griffin has a number of 2nd placings at 70.3 and long course events.

Josh Rix is someone who has had a solid year this year. He raced IM Melbourne for an 11th overall in 8:22 and a 3rd at the Cairns 70.3. Rix should be strong in the swim and will keep in touch on the bike.

Ollie Whistler has been working towards this race all year. With a decent crash a few months ago in a US race he missed a bit of training but has been focused on this race since. Whistler won Yeppoon and Canberra half ironmans last year and for a young guys shows that he has a long future ahead of him. Watch out for the haircut.

01 Craig Alexander 39 AUS
02 Michael Raelert 32 DEU
03 Richie Cunningham 39 AUS
04 Bart Aernouts 28 BEL
05 Timothy O’Donnell 31 USA
06 Joe Gambles 30 AUS
07 Tim Reed 27 AUS
08 Paul Matthews 29 AUS
09 Paul Ambrose 28 AUS
10 Matty Reed 36 USA
11 Terenzo Bozzone 27 NZL
12 Andy Potts 35 USA
13 Greg Bennett 40 AUS
14 Alessandro Degasperi 31 ITA
15 Filip Ospaly 36 CZE
17 Leon Griffin 32 AUS
18 Christian Kemp 31 AUS
19 Joe Umphenour 43 USA
20 Clayton Fettell 26 AUS
21 Sebastian Kienle 28 DEU
22 Ollie Whistler 24 AUS
23 Jeff Symonds 26 CAN
24 Tim Berkel 28 AUS
25 Santiago Ascenco 31 BRA
26 Kent Horner 30 ZAF
28 Callum Millward 29 NZL
29 Trevor Wurtele 33 CAN
31 Josh Amberger 23 AUS
32 Bevan DOcherty 35 NZL
33 Paul Amey 39 GBR
34 Oscar Galindez 41 ARG
35 Erich FELBABEL 34 HKG
36 Jos_ JEULAND 30 FRA
37 Shanon Stallard 32 NZL
38 Robert Wade 30 IRL
39 Jordan Jones 31 USA
40 Jesse Thomas 32 USA
41 Balazs Csoke 29 HUN
42 Mauro cavanha 27 BRA
43 Julien Biboud 26 CAN
44 Matt Lieto 34 USA
45 James Bowstead 25 NZL
46 Faris Al-Sultan 34 DEU
47 Jack Smith 25 USA
60 Melissa Hauschildt 29 AUS
61 Kelly Williamson 34 USA
62 Linsey Corbin 31 USA
63 Jodie Swallow 31 GBR
64 Leanda Cave 34 GBR
65 Heather Jackson 28 USA
66 Margaret Shapiro 35 USA
67 Emma-Kate Lidbury 32 GBR
68 Angela Naeth 30 CAN
69 Joanna Lawn 38 NZL
70 Michelle Wu 29 AUS
71 Magali Tisseyre 30 CAN
72 Mirinda Carfrae 31 AUS
73 Natascha Badmann 45 CHE
74 Lisa Marangon 32 AUS
75 Jennifer Tetrick 30 USA
76 Meredith Kessler 34 USA
77 Amanda Stevens 35 USA
79 Julia Grant 26 NZL
81 Sarah Piampiano 32 USA
82 Claire Horner 31 ZAF
83 Yvonne Van Vlerken 33 NED
84 Julia Gajer 30 DEU
85 Heather Wurtele 33 USA
86 Missy Kuck 36 USA
87 Rachel Challis 36 NZL
88 Mandy McLane 33 USA
89 Mariana Andrade 25 BRA