Tasmanian triathlete Jake Birtwhistle has certainly experienced the ups and downs of his first year on the ITU World Triathlon Series which continues in Stockholm this weekend.
The 20-year-old from Launceston is one of 10 Australians who will line up in the Swedish capital for the eighth race of the 10-round Series which will travel to Edmonton (September 5-6) and conclude for 2015 in Chicago for the Grand Final (September 15-19).
Birtwhistle will be joined on the Elite Men’s start line by fellow Australians, Wollongong Wizard training partners, Australia’s highest ranked triathlete on the WTS rankings Ryan Bailie and 2016 Olympic qualifier Aaron Royle and also by 2015 World Championship elite team debutant Ryan Fisher and Cameron Good.
Royle and Bailie are continuing to build on their growing reputations as two of the toughest competitors on the WTS “after Royle’s Olympic qualifier in Rio where he finished sixth and Bailie’s career best fourth in London and his recovery from a spectacular bike fall in Rio.
Bailie is sandwiched between Britain’s Brownlee brothers on the WTS rankings with Olympic gold medallist Alistair in sixth on 2340 points, followed by Bailie (2305) and former world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee in eighth on 2186.
Birtwhistle has been named on the Under 23 team for this year’s World Championships and admits he is looking towards turning things around on the route to Chicago, starting in Stockholm.
“After a hard few weeks struggling with a bit of Illness I have now managed to once again get some solid training sessions under my belt, “Birtwhistle said.
“I am looking forward to racing in the Stockholm WTS and will then be continuing to build for the following few weeks heading into Chicago.”
Birtwhistle will step up from the Junior division into the Under 23s for Chicago.
“I am very proud to be selected for my third World Triathlon Championships, this time in Chicago,” said Birtwhistle.
“This will be my first ear stepping up to the under 23 category which I am looking forward to.
“I finished sixth in my first World Championships and second last year and so I would like to keep this forward momentum going.
“Chicago has been a major goal for me for the year and will be my last ITU race for the season and of course I am hoping to finish on a very good note.”
Stockholm will be a major lead up race for most of the leading Australians.
It will see the Aussie men up against the top seven in the world “including top three, Spanish trio, Javier Gomez, Mario Mola and Fernando Alarza as well as British Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee.
The women’s field will be led by 2013 Under 23 world champion Charlotte McShane, who will be joined by 2012 Olympic silver medallist Erin Densham; 2014 Under 23 world silver medallist Gillian Backhouse, London Olympian Emma Jackson and Under 23 world championship team member for 2015 Natalie Van Coevorden.
While the women will be spared the presence of world’s number one, the unbeaten Gwen Jorgensen but not her US team mates Katie Zaferes and Sarah True, who are ranked two and three in the world.
The women’s field will see six of the world’s top ten with Australia’s McShane top ranked of the Australian women.
McShane is currently 13th on the WTS rankings on 1409 points behind Emma Moffatt (9th on 1710) and Ashleigh Gentle (12th 1455).