IMAGE| Delly Carr
Five Olympians, including London bronze medallist and triple Olympian Erin Densham and fellow Rio trio Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie and Ashleigh Gentle have today been named in a 10-strong team for Triathlon Australia’s second 2018 Commonwealth Games selection race in Hamburg next month.
Densham, at 32, will join a second London Olympian and Glasgow Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay bronze medallist Emma Jackson for the July 15 World Triathlon Series race which offers a second automatic nomination chance for the first eligible male and female that finishes in the top ten positions.
Tasmania’s Jake Birtwhistle and Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle have already earned the first automatic nominations to the Commonwealth Games Association after their top ten finishes in the Gold Coast WTS race in April but will also race Hamburg.
Densham, who is the Assistant Triathlon coach at the Arizona State University, contested the recent ITU Chengdu World Cup, finishing 12th before suffering a broken chain in the early stages of the bike in the weekend’s ITU Cagliari World Cup.
With Gentle already nominated, Densham, Jackson, 2016 WTS Cozumel Grand Final bronze medallist Charlotte McShane and Sydney youngster and trainee nurse Emma Jeffcoat have all been named by the Triathlon Australia Elite Selection Committee for a chance at the second nomination.
Bailie and Royle, also part of the Glasgow relay team from 2014, will be joined by exciting youngsters Luke Willian and Matt Hauser who have both earned the selectors nod in a battle between the established WTS stars and the rising stars of the men’s ranks.
This weekend’s WTS race in Leeds will be Royle’s racing return post tearing his plantar fascia in early February this year.
McShane will warm up for Hamburg when she lines up in this weekend’s WTS race in Leeds as well.
“I am now in my European home of Vitoria-Gasteiz and beginning a block of training for the lead up to Hamburg where I have really enjoyed my past couple of weeks which also included a fun race/trip to Italy so I’m feeling refreshed and ready to test myself out against the world’s best in Leeds before putting my head down and focusing on Hamburg,” said McShane.
“It would be a huge honour to be a part of the Australian Commonwealth Games team, even more so in 2018 as it is at home in Australia.”
Jackson, like Royle, is in the process of overcoming two tears in her plantar fascia that came about a couple weeks before the first Commonwealth Games selection race on the Gold Coast.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to run much since March so the priority has been to heal my foot and now begin gaining back some lost run fitness to give myself the best possible chance of qualifying in Hamburg for the Commonwealth Games team.”
Hamburg will be Jeffcoat’s next race as she continues to juggle training with the final stages of finishing her Bachelor of Nursing Degree, which consists of final hospital placement hours for four weeks.
“Once I finish that next week I will knuckle down for three weeks training in Sydney before heading over to Europe, joining Jamie Turner’s Australian squad over in Vitoria Gasteiz until the ITU World Championships in September,” said a thrilled Jeffcoat.
“Since Gold Coast I raced at Chengdu World Cup in China last month, winning in the semi final and finishing seventh in the Super Sprint finale.
“To be part of the Commonwealth Games team would be a dream come true. I would grasp the opportunity to represent my country at such a prestigious Games and would be so proud to earn that honour!
“I am determined to give this opportunity at the second selection event (and my second ever WTS race) everything I have to give for selection.”
Royle admitted he did not expect to be back racing as soon as this weekend.
“When I tore the plantar I wasn’t sure how long the recovery would be, but the only aim I had in mind was to be back fit and racing well by Hamburg. So to be back racing six weeks earlier is a bonus,” said Royle.
“Ever since Gold Goast was announced as the 2018 Commonwealth Games I was motivated to be part of it.
“I missed the opportunity in the first selection race earlier this year so I know how important Hamburg will be as the second selection race.
“As always with Selection races I will be going out there to put my best foot forward and racing to perform well and not put too much emphasis on the actually selection criteria.”
Chengdu World Cup winner Hauser and bronze medallist Willian will grasp the opportunity with both hands.
“The Gold Coast was a great experience for me and opened up some areas that need working on while the Chengdu World Cup was a target race for Dan and myself and I was able to execute the processes,” said Hauser.
“The two-day format worked in my favour and allowed me similar exposure to the individual/relay racing that will be in Hamburg.
“It would be a massive honour to be named on the Commonwealth Games team, to get the opportunity to represent Australia in a major Games in my home city where I train everyday would be surreal and massively motivating.”
Willian will head to Vitoria-Gastiez next week to begin his final training for Hamburg and will include racing the French GP in Valence two weeks before Hamburg.
“It would be an absolute honour to be part of the Commonwealth Games team representing Australia in triathlon at one of the highest levels of racing,” Willian said.
“To race at the Commonwealth Games is something I’ve been working hard towards particularly over the last year. To have the Games at the Gold Coast, so close to home, creates a great opportunity for my friends and family to watch me race at a high level of competition they would not normally have the opportunity to see.
“This is what makes the opportunity to race in the Commonwealth Games so special to me.”
Australian Team for WTS Hamburg, July 15:
Men: Ryan Bailie (WA), Jake Birtwhistle (TAS), Matthew Hauser (QLD), Aaron Royle (NSW), Luke Willian (QLD).
Women: Erin Densham (NSW), Ashleigh Gentle (QLD), Emma Jackson (QLD), Emma Jeffcoat (QLD), Charlotte McShane (VIC)