THERE was no one more disappointed than Brittany Dutton when a stress fracture in her back forced the young Queenslander to withdraw from last year’s Australian Youth Olympic Games triathlon team for Sydney.
But yesterday the 16-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl showed the kind of fighting qualities it takes to make it in the sport she loves “a sport she first started on a mountain bike at the age of six.
Come August, Dutton, will finally realise her dream of wearing the green and gold of her country after again earning selection on an Australian team for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China.
She won the Oceania YOG Qualifying race (750m swim; 20km bike; 5km run) and round two of the Scody Australian Junior Series from fellow Queenslander Sophie Malowiecki and New Zealand’s YOG qualifier Elizabeth Stannard in third.
Only the first two athletes home from Oceania countries qualified for the YOG.
Dutton will be joined on the Australian team by fellow Queenslander and fellow Triathlon Australia National Talent Academy scholarship holder 15-year-old Matthew Hauser, who won the boys YOG qualifying race to clinch his place on his first Australian team.
Dutton, who will enter Year 12 at Craigslea State High this year, produced an outstanding sprint finish to lower the colours of two of Australia’s outstanding juniors “ITU World Championship representatives in Malowiecki and Jaz Hedgeland (WA) who at 19 was ineligible for YOG selection.
(Hedgeland, the 2013 AYOF gold medallist and defending Australian and Scody Australian Junior Champion, finished third overall in round two of the Scody Series.)
But even this preparation has not been an easy pathway for Dutton. Once again she had to overcome adversity to reach her goal after suffering stress reaction in her foot and a quadricep injury, which prevented her from running for several weeks in the lead up to yesterday’s Oceania YOG Qualifier at the International Regatta Centre, Penrith.
“It was devastating to miss out on competing for Australia but I was happy to see one of my training partners Anna Coldham replace me at the time,” recalled Dutton yesterday after producing the race of her life.
“I’m overwhelmed, I haven’t had the best lead up to this race and I had a bad year last year so I’m just so happy to be on the start line – you’ve just got to remain positive and get through it.
“So to win I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was one of my goals and I’m just so happy to be representing Australia. To finally wear the uniform and the track suit is all I’ve ever wanted; I’m just so happy.”
Dutton, who is coached at the QAS by Josh White, was on the money right from the opening 750 swim leg and worked with the large group on the bike before sitting behind Hedgeland and Malowiecki until the final stages of the run when she knew she had to beat fellow YOG athlete (16-17 years) Malowiecki to clinch a spot on the Australian team.
She was greeted by London Olympic silver medallist, 2010 YOG gold medallist and 2014 YOG ambassador Jess Fox, who was quick to offer words of encouragement to Dutton.
Hauser, the 15-year-old Xavier Catholic College student from Hervey Bay, has been one of the real movers and shakers from the youth to junior ranks over the last 12 months.
He has capitalised on his running talents which has seen him finish with the silver medal at the All Schools Cross Country Championships.
“I won the Youth category last year and I’m also a dual junior and intermediate schools triathlon champion but making the National Talent Academy has been one of the major highlights of my short career,” said Hauser.
“Working with those guys (coaches and athletes) has been amazing. It’s a dream for all athletes to represent their country and doing so at such a young age is absolutely awesome and a great stepping stone for the years to come.”
Hauser, who is coached by Brian Harrington, let the field know he meant business when he jumped off his bike at the head of 20 odd riders in a frantic race through the bike transition and on to the run.
He played to his strengths and admitted he did take a sneak peak over his shoulder once or twice to see where the field was and who he had to beat with outstanding Queenslander Max Neumann (ineligible for YOG selection at 19) first across the line to take round two of the Scody Australian Junior Series after finishing second by half-a-point to Calvin Quirk at the Race Weekend on the Gold Coast last month. (Quirk was forced out of today’s race with a calf strain).
Meanwhile the youth races were conducted over a 400 metre swim, 15 kilometre bike and four kilometre run course around the picturesque Penrith Lakes course.
The youth girls race saw the ACT’s Ellie Hoitink steal a march on her rivals on the final run lap of the run after running shoulder to shoulder with Jessica Claxton (WA) and Milan Agnew (QLD) on the bell lap.
In the boys Victoria’s Kurt McDonald sprinted clear towards the finish to beat round one winner Caleb Agostino-Morrow (NSW) with Lloyd Clode-Roberts (QLD) in third.
Triathlon Australia Scody Series, International Regatta Centre, Penrith:
Oceania Youth Olympic Games Qualifier
Male: (16-17 years): Matt Hauser (AUS) Jack van Stekelenburg (AUS) Dan Hoy (NZL).
Female: Brittany Dutton (AUS) Sophie Malowiecki (AUS) Elizabeth Stannard (NZL).
Scody Series, Youth
Male: Round 2: Kurt McDonald (VIC) Caleb Agostino-Morrow (NSW) Lloyd Clode-Roberts (QLD);
Female: Ellie Hoitink (ACT) Jessica Claxton (WA) Milan Agnew (QLD).
Scody Series, Junior
Male: Round 2: Max Neumann (QLD) Matthew Hauser (QLD) Nick McGuire (VIC)
Female: Brittany Dutton (QLD) Sophie Malowiecki (QLD) Jaz Hedgeland (WA).