Why it matters: Launceston’s 28-year-old Tokyo Olympian and three-time Commonwealth Games medallist, Jake Birtwhistle, returns to the Mersey Bluff sprint course in Devonport where his triathlon journey to the sport's biggest international stages first began, for the 2023 Oceania Triathlon Cup and Sprint Championships.
Driving the bunch: Birtwhistle's first race was over the Mersey Bluff course 16 years ago as a schoolboy when he attended Riverside Primary School, and he will spearhead the men's field, along with a talented group of Elite men including Kingscliff’s Gold Coast-based WTS racer Brandon Copeland, ACT’s Callum McClusky, NSW trio, the Schofield twins Jayden and Luke, and Luke Bate.
What they are saying:
- "It’s kind of cool to have a couple of races down here in Tassie, Hobart was a blast and now the Devonport Tri, I can’t wait," said Birtwhistle.
- "It’s nice that I can get back here after such a long time. To have a race like Devonport not too far from home is kind of cool, being the Oceania title and some good points on the line, it means a lot," added Birtwhistle.
By the numbers: McClusky is in good form after winning the Oceania Cup opener in Wanaka, where he produced the run of the day to beat Kiwi pair Kyle Smith and Tayler Reid to take the win.
Between transition: The women’s race will feature Birtwhistle’s Tokyo teammates; three-time Devonport winner Emma Jeffcoat and 2015 winner Jaz Hedgeland and sister Kira, as well as Commonwealth Games relay medallist Sophie Linn, who finished a strong fourth in the Birmingham individual race.
The bottom line: The 2023 Oceania Cup and Sprint Championships begins on Saturday, 18 March at the Mersey Bluff, Devonport.