Triathletes ready to hit Port Douglas in crucial Tokyo points chase
Olympic triathlete hopefuls have touched down in Port Douglas ahead of tomorrow’s crucial final Tokyo games qualification race.
Australia and New Zealand’s top triathletes will contest the 2021 Oceania Standard Distance Championship on Saturday in Port Douglas.
Charlotte McShane and Luke Willian are among the field of competitors vying for all important points for Australia and to secure themselves a ticket to Tokyo next month.
“It is a championship race which is always a big deal and for us and it's the biggest race that we've had for over 18 months now given that we haven't been able to compete internationally,” World Champion Charlotte McShane told Newsport.
“It is the last race before Olympic selections are made and Olympic points are finalised, so there is a lot going on.
“We also have some New Zealand athletes here which is really great having international competitors again.”
Ms McShane, said she was excited to hit the course in Port Douglas.
“I've had a look at the course, I went for a swim this morning, I rode the bike course yesterday, and today and I will do the run course,” she said.
“It looks great, that water is beautiful, and it will be a nice run onto the beach, the bike course looks great, the roads are very smooth, and it looks like it'll be a super-fast bike. The run goes through the main strip of town, which is great, so hopefully, we can get some spectators out there to cheer us on.
“I've had quite a few injuries over the last few years so it's been a long time since I've been racing this fit and healthy and for me, it's my last opportunity before selections to show what I can do.”
Points earned by the athletes in Port Douglas will be crucial with Australia on the verge of earning a maximum six triathletes for this year’s Tokyo Olympic Team.
Only Australia and the USA are in a position to qualify three males and also three females for an Olympics that will see the Mixed Relay added to the two individual races for the first time – providing a vital strategic element to the competition structure.
Fellow Olympic hopeful and Queensland Commonwealth Games representative, Luke Willian said he was “stocked” to be in the warm tropical weather.
“I'm very glad to be up here, especially racing in the warm weather and Tokyo is warm too so we're replicating that here,” he said.
“The humidity is the big thing and that's what you've got here so it kind of gives us a chance to replicate that.
“Tokyo has always been the goal, and the last Olympics selection points are on the line, so it is crucial.
“I have been training for it for months now and I am looking forward to leaving it all out there tomorrow.”
Mr Willian was also excited about the Port Douglas course.
“It’s got a nice little technical section on the way out and the fast straights. I'm really looking forward to doing the run up the main street, I think that's really exciting because you can get people out there cheering and that makes for a really good atmosphere.
Local surf lifesavers will be out in force in the water and along the course making sure everyone stays safe.
Port Douglas Surf Life Saving President, Irene Cats, said it was inspiring for young members of the club to see professional athletes and potential Olympians compete.
“It's a great opportunity for us to be part of an event like this, we get to help out with the Ironman every year, but this is a totally different event.
"This is great for the younger ones, as well and for us, to do something different and see these awesome triathletes do their thing,” she said.
All the action kicks off tomorrow at 7:00am in Port Douglas. Changed traffic conditions and detours will be in place around Macrossan Street and the esplanade.
This weekend’s race will be followed by the 2021 Oceania Sprint Cup on Saturday 26 June in Port Douglas.
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