Queensland’s emerging triathlon star Emma Jackson has today revealed she is well ahead of last year’s training times as she prepares to stake her claim for this year’s London Olympics.
The 20-year-old who was only nine when Michelle Jones won silver at the sport’s Olympic debut in Sydney 12 years ago will have her first serious hit out of the season in Saturday’s Oceania Championships and Olympic nomination event in Devonport, Tasmania.
She is determined to add her name to the list of Australia’s Olympic women triathletes – Nicole Hackett, Loretta Harrop, Maxine Seear, Rina Hill, Emma Moffatt, Emma Snowsill, Erin Densham and Jones.
She wants one of two remaining places from a competitive women’s shadow team, when the selectors next sit down in April.
In the women, Australia has already pre-nominated two-time world champion Emma Moffatt for London, with Jackson and the defending Olympic champion Emma Snowsill, leading a strong women’s field chasing the other two places.
Moffatt and Snowsill will both sit out Devonport but will line up for the ITU World Cup event in Mooloolaba (March 24, 25) and the opening ITU World Championship Series race against Jackson in Sydney (April 14).
But for Australia and Jackson, Devonport will be a major stepping stone in the countdown to claiming a maiden Olympic berth and adding her name onto triathlon’s Olympian list.
The winners of the women’s and men’s Olympic distance events on Saturday will guarantee their respective countries the first positions for London and organisers expect a ding-dong battle with New Zealand.
“It is important to race well in Devonport and to try and secure that place for Australia and then go on and race well again at the first ITU World Championship round in Sydney on April 14,” said Jackson who was fourth in her breakout year in last year’s World Series.
“I am well ahead of where I was at the same time last year so that is certainly a positive going into an Olympic year.
“But this week in Devonport will be tough especially with Beijing Olympian Erin Densham in the field and a host of New Zealanders led by Nicky Samuels, who is a real strong swim-biker.
“My coach Stephen Moss has made it clear just how important this race is.”
Jackson, one of the strongest runners in international triathlon, was fourth in the ITU London test event last year.
She was also second to Moffatt in the “Emma-athon” in Hamburg last year when the three Emmas owned the podium.
She says she is ready for the challenge.
“I haven’t raced an ITU race since the last round in Yokohama last year so I am keen to get down to Devonport to race,” said Jackson.
“Training has been going really well and I have felt good in some of the smaller lead up races so hopefully I can put in a good performance and get on the podium.”
Jackson said missing early nomination had only made her more determined to showed she deserves Olympic selection with solid performances in Devonport and especially Sydney “which will be the main event in many of the athletes eyes.
“It would have been nice to get an early nomination but Emma (Moffatt) certainly deserved her place. She has won two world titles and she has a lot more history than me but hopefully I will be able to prove myself with strong showings in Devonport and Sydney “that’s my aim.
“It has given me extra motivation to prove to the selectors that I should be chosen.”
WHERE: The Devonport City Council’s recent multi-million dollar foreshore makeover will be a perfect location for this year’s Oceania Championships. The 2012 event will be conducted at a brand new venue in Devonport at the Devonport Surf Life Saving Club and Mersey Bluff foreshore which will allow for a natural amphitheatre for athletes and spectators alike.
WHAT: Some of the biggest names in Australian and New Zealand triathlon will line up in the 2012 OTU Oceania Championships which will include multi-faceted races for Elites, Under 23s, Juniors and Age Groupers.
THE STAKES: At the top of the list will be all-important London Olympic positions which are up for grabs for Oceania Federations as well as all-important ITU and Olympic rankings points; ITU World Championship qualification for Age Groupers; the Elite, Under 23s, Age Group Oceania Championships; the final race in the Australian Junior Series as well as the exciting Trans Tasman Teams Challenge.
WHAT IT MEANS: With only eight countries allowed the maximum of three athletes per gender on the London start line, the battle to secure the one automatic spot granted to Oceania countries will be fiercely contested. So serious are the Kiwis that they have also designated the Oceania Championships as their National Championships “an event normally hosted in Wellington.
FLYING THE MEN’S FLAG: Flying the Australian men’s flag will be Beijing Olympian Courtney Atkinson, former ITU World Champion-cum-Ironman king Chris McCormack, emerging Victorian World Cup-winner Brendan Sexton and a host of emerging stars including, Jamie Huggett, Drew Box, Aaron Royle, James Seear and Ryan Fisher.
THE KIWIS: For the Kiwis, two-time Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty, two-time NZ Commonwealth Games representative and former world aquathlon champion Kris Gemmell, the under 23 Oceania champion Ryan Sissons and Tony Dodds, who was second across the line in the Australian Sprint Championship in Geelong last month, will lead the New Zealand men.
THE WOMEN: While the women’s field may not have the numbers, it has attracted a select field with Australia’s elite contingent led by Beijing Olympian Erin Densham, the brilliant Emma Jackson along with World Cup winner Ashleigh Gentle.
PAST EVENTS: Devonport last hosted the Oceania Championships back in 2004 when Beijing Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt outsprinted Sydney Olympian Miles Stewart to win the men’s race. British athlete Liz Blatchford won the women’s race from Barb Lindquist (USA) and Nicole Hackett. Interestingly, in that year Triathlon New Zealand used the Devonport race as it final selection race for the Athens Olympic Games. Nathan Richmond finished fourth overall and beat a fast finishing Kris Gemmell to secure the third and final New Zealand Olympic spot for Athens. In the women’s race Samantha Warriner held out Shanelle Barrett by ten seconds to secure her Athens spot on the New Zealand Olympic team. The 2004 race also included Athens Gold medallist Hamish Carter (NZL), Ironman athletes Craig Alexander and Chris McCormack, while the women’s field in 2004 included 2008 Beijing Olympians Erin Densham and Emma Moffatt along with Ironman athletes Mirinda Carfrae and Sam McGlone (CAN).
SATURDAY START TIMES (Mersey Bluff Beach):
7-7:30am – AGE GROUP (Olympic Distance)
10.15am “ITU JUNIOR WOMEN
11.30am “ITU JUNIOR MEN
1pm – ELITE WOMEN AND UNDER 23S
3.30pm – ELITE MEN AND UNDSER 23S
Issued on behalf of Triathlon Australia