Five Commonwealth Games Australia alumni are preparing to compete in the latest leg of the World Triathlon Championship Series this weekend.
Inspirational Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Lauren Parker will be joined by fellow Commonwealth Games alumni Aaron Royle and Matt Hauser in a nine-strong Australian contingent on the start lines of the World Triathlon Championship Series in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Parker will headline a field of six as she chases the successful defence of her 2019 PTWC World Championship crown and without US Paralympic champion Kendall Gretsch in the field, the woman who snatched the gold from Parker in heart-breaking fashion with a last gasp push in Tokyo, as Grestch is preparing to compete at Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics in Nordic Skiing.
But Parker will be joined in the field by four other Tokyo Paralympians including Spain’s bronze medallist Eva Maria Moral Pedrero.
Since Tokyo, Parker has been a dominant force on an eventful North American 70.3 Ironman circuit which saw her survive a car accident and race with third-degree burns on her toes.
Defending her 2019 crown would be a deserved finale for Parker as she prepares to tackle the Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit for the World Triathlon Para Championships.
The Para-triathletes will be racing the same circuit as the elites only some hours earlier, with the World Championships to be contested over the sprint distance course – 750m swim, 20km bike (4 x4.8km laps on part of the Yas Marina Circuit Formula 1 Track) before the 5km run over three laps to finish in front of the Marina – and in oppressive weather conditions similar to what they experienced this summer in Tokyo.
Australia’s elite representation in the men’s race will see Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Royle and Gold Coast 2018 gold medallists Hauser joined by Gold Coast training partner Brandon Copeland and Marcel Walkington.
While Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Emma Jackson and Gold Coast 2018 team member Charlotte McShane will be joined by Australia’s top-ranked female Natalie Van Coevorden along with youngster Kira Hedgeland in the elite women’s race.
The elite course for the second leg of the 2021-22 World Triathlon Championship Series will also cover the sprint distance of a 750m swim in front of the Viceroy Hotel followed by a 20km bike (5x4km laps) through the Yas Marina while riding part of the Circuit Formula 1 Track and finishing with a 5km run consisting of 2×2.5km laps also finishing in front of the Marina.
Walkington and Copeland were the best performing Australians in the opening round in Hamburg, finishing 11th and 14th respectively.
Hauser, a noted sprint specialist, is in fine form after winning bronze in the post-Olympic Under 23 World Championship in Edmonton.
The stacked women’s field will see the four Australians contending with Bermuda’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and Tokyo Olympic champion Flora Duffy.
Jackson and McShane will be coming off the World Triathlon Cup in Tongyeong which saw Jackson fourth and McShane 12th in a race.
With thanks Triathlon Australia.