Queensland’s rising triathlon star Matt Hauser has continued Australia’s golden run at the ITU World Championships Grand Final with a stunning world junior title win in a rainy Rotterdam earlier today.
Hauser, 19, secured Australia’s third gold medal of the Championships, coming 24 hours after paratriathletes Katie Kelly and Emily Tapp claimed gold in their classes yesterday.
With three races remaining today, the Under 23 women and the Men’s and Women’s Elite races, Australia has won three gold, two silver and one bronze in what has already been a successful Championships.
The talented teen from Hervey Bay, who moved to the Gold Coast to chase his triathlon dreams two years ago under coach Dan Atkins, finally dispelled the disappointment of 2016.
Hauser finished 45th in the corresponding World Championship race in Cozumel, Mexico last year after finishing fifth in a swim-less race in Chicago in 2015 – his career very much at a crossroads.
But 12 months later and after turning his career around in a big way, under Atkins, Hauser now forms part of an exciting new generation of male triathlon stars and the win comes the morning after team mate Luke Willian’s brave bronze in the Under 23 World Championship race.
Hauser has become a rare two-time World Champion in the same year adding his junior crown to the newest Olympic event, the Mixed Team Relay title he won with Birtwhistle, Ashleigh Gentle and Charlotte McShane in Hamburg in July.
Hauser and Willian have continued to put pressure on the Elite Australians, Rio Olympians Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie in the race to join already nominated Birtwhistle for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
And it more than makes up for the bitter disappointment he suffered at last year’s world championships in Cozumel.
Hauser handled the wet, slippery and tricky conditions like a true pro – conditions that claimed some riders who crashed early in the bike on the narrow, cobblestoned roads of Europe’s famous port city.
The strongly built Hauser was first out of the water after the 750m swim, positioning himself perfectly with a group of 12 that circled the city streets as the rain increased, making conditions increasingly dangerous.
And after surviving the 20km four lap bike circuit he wasted no time charging out of transition with that determined look in his eyes when he attacked the run with the world title in his sights.
And after the first 2.5km run lap Hauser had opened up a 12 second lead and at that point he was never going to be headed, running away with the gold by 28 seconds to claim the victory over Vasco Vilaca (Portugal) and Ben Dijkstra (Great Britain) taking bronze.
Hauser went through the course in 55mins 54seconds, Vilaca in 56.22 and Dijkstra in 5.35 and was full of praise for his coaches.
“Since I moved to the Gold Coast to join Dan Atkins from my first coach Brian Harrington I’ve had a great lot of mentors and coaches with me along the way,” said Hauser.
“To be able to get this win, and to (now) start my career after this win it’s more of a relief than anything after a poor year last year.
“It’s really positive, a two time world champion in the one year is fantastic and a great honour.
“I’ve been building up 12 months for this. Being able to get some redemption from last year’s poor result is fantastic.
“Full credit to my coach Dan and all the guys on the Gold Coast for helping me and pushing me through.
“Today positioning on the bike was everything and I was able to have the legs in the end.
“Basing ourselves in the Basque country in Spain with coach Jamie Turner’s group in the lead off has certainly paid off.
“It was critical on the bike and I managed that up front with a couple of the Norwegians and that worked out well.
“I knew if I got through transition I would be well placed with my run and my legs were feeling good.
“I just executed the process and everything worked out well for me on the day. It has been a 12-month preparation for me and I have had a few setbacks, but it has been great year all-around in total.”
The two other Australians in the race, rookie Lorcan Redmond (NSW) claimed 20th on debut in an encouraging start to his international career while Nicholas Free gave away 30 seconds in transition to finish 30th.
Hauser becomes only the fourth Australian to win the ITU World Junior Championship – joining Ben Bright (1994), Chris Hill (1995) and Olympian Courtney Atkinson (1999) and the first Aussie on the podium since Birtwhistle (silver) and Calvin Quirk (bronze) in Edmonton in 2014.