Roger Vaughn / APP News
Automatic Commonwealth Games nomination will come at a high price for Australian triathlon hopefuls at the Yokohama round of the sport’s world series.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jake Birtwhistle and fellow Tokyo Olympians Jaz Hedgeland and Emma Jeffcoat are among the Australians racing on Saturday in the Japan event.
The first Australian man and woman gain nomination for the Birmingham team, but there’s a big catch – they must finish in the top 10.
No Australian finished in the top 10 at Yokohama last year – indeed, there were no Australians in the overall world series top 10.
Along with the disappointing results at the Tokyo Olympics, last year’s world series standings were a stark reminder that the glory days for Australian triathlon are ancient history.
Matt Hauser and Sophie Linn secured the first two spots in the three-man, three-woman Birmingham Games team by winning last month’s Gold Coast nomination race.
Any of the Games team spots not taken after Yokohama will be decided by national selectors.
While Linn will bypass Yokohama, Hauser will compete there.
Yokohama is an Olympic-distance event – a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run, on a fast and technical course.
The Birmingham Games race will be a sprint format – half the distances of the Olympic format.
“I can go into this weekend full steam ahead with Birmingham in mind,” Hauser said.
“While Olympic distance hasn’t traditionally suited me, and although this first half of the year is geared towards the Commonwealth Games, this race is an important part of my development as an athlete leading into Paris in two years time.”
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games competitor Luke Willian will also race in Yokohama, along with Luke Bate and Brandon Copeland.
Hedgeland’s younger sister Kira, Charlotte McShane and Natalie Van Coevorden will round out the elite Australian women’s team in Japan.
The Para-triathlon will feature Birmingham selection Jonathan Goerlach, but Sam Harding is out because of COVID-19.
Nic Beveridge, David Bryant, Justin Godfrey, Liam Twomey and Jeremy Peacock will also compete in the Para categories.