Australia’s six-strong Olympic triathlon team for next month’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico features several Gold Coasters.
All-up Australia will send a team of 25 – with seven athletes named on the Under 23 team, and six in the Junior division.
The women will see 2016 Olympic team members, two-time ITU world champion Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle, Emma Moffatt who trains on the Gold Coast, Erin Densham (NSW) and London Olympian Emma Jackson.
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Olympic bronze medallists Moffatt in Beijing in 2008 and Densham in London in 2012 will each become three-time Olympians in Rio.
The team also includes 2013 Under 23 world champion Charlotte McShane; 2014 Under 23 world championship runner-up Gillian Backhouse and Elite team debutant Natalie Van Coevorden.
Van Coevorden’s position on the team will be subject to Australia gaining an extra quota spot.
Birtwhistle, the 21-year-old Tasmanian will earn his official Elite team number of 44 for his Elite race suit while 23-year-old Van Coevorden will debut wearing number 42.
Rio-bound Elite men, Aaron Royle (NSW), Ryan Bailie (WA) and Ryan Fisher (QLD) will be joined by 2014 Commonwealth Games representative Dan Wilson and Elite World’s debutant, 2015 Under 23 world champion Jake Birtwhistle.
Triathlon Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage said the selectors had come up with a “very strong, experienced and exciting Elite team.”
“Half the Elite team will be coming straight off the Olympic Games while the other half have been racing very well in the WTS rounds,” said Savage.
“You can see the men’s team maturing every time they race and they have been presented with every opportunity to break through and that’s just what they are doing.
“It is exciting to see the green and gold suits up the front and fighting for every position and our recent performances in Hamburg where Jake (Birtwhistle) finished with the individual silver to Spain’s world ranked number one Mario Mola followed by our ‘never give in’ effort to finish with silver in the ITU Mixed Teams Relay World Championship was very satisfying indeed.
“Our women’s team just oozes talent and experience and on their day can produce anything at the Olympics and at the World Championships.
“It has been so encouraging to see the likes of Charlotte McShane have her most consistent season on the WTS circuit and she has the opportunity to do something special in the next two races in Edmonton (September 2-4) and then Cozumel.
“If the athletes seize their opportunities there is no reason why we can’t go to Cozumel and finish the year on a high.”
The team is made up of six current National Talent Academy members, Under 23 athletes Jaz Hedgeland, Emma Jeffcoat, Matt Roberts, Luke Willian, Sophie Malowiecki and Matt Hauser.
Roberts and Willian, like Van Coevorden, will also be reliant upon an available quota position.
There are also four former NTA scholarship holders, in Birtwhistle and Under 23s Marcel Walkington, Matt Baker and 2013 under 23 world championship bronze medallist Declan Wilson.
Craig Redman, Triathlon Australia’s National Manager High Performance Pathway said: “It is certainly an exciting team of talented athletes with an excellent mixture of athletes with previous worlds experience and first timers.
“Older U23 athletes such as Declan Wilson, Matt Baker and Marcel Walkington will be outstanding mentors for the first year U23’s Luke Willian and Matt Roberts while Emma Jeffcoat and Jaz Hedgeland will be extremely competitive in the U23 women’s race.
“Mexico will be a significant challenge for all our young developing junior athletes, particularly with the travel and heat.
“The future is looking very bright indeed with a number of extremely talented athletes just missing out on selection for this year’s team, which I am confident they will be pushing for a spot on the team in 2017 and beyond.
“I wish to pass on my congratulations to all athletes, their home coaches and families on their selection into the Australian Elite Team.”
AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLON TEAM, 2016 ITU World Championships, Cozumel, Mexico, September 11-18
Elite: Emma Moffatt ((QLD), Ashleigh Gentle (QLD), Erin Densham (NSW), Emma Jackson (QLD), Charlotte McShane (VIC), Gillian Backhouse (NSW), Natalie Van Coevorden (NSW)*
Under 23: Emma Jeffcoat (NSW), Jaz Hedgeland (WA)
Junior: Sophie Malowiecki (QLD), Jessica Claxton (WA), Zoe Leahy (QLD)
Elite: Aaron Royle (NSW), Ryan Bailie (WA), Ryan Fisher (QLD), Jake Birtwhistle TAS), Dan Wilson (QLD)
Under 23: Marcel Walkington (VIC), Declan Wilson (ACT), Matthew Baker (NSW), Luke Willian (QLD)*,Matthew Roberts (QLD)*
Junior: Matthew Hauser (QLD), Liam McCoach (WA), Kye Wylde (QLD).