While the OTU Sprint Oceania Championships were just a few short weeks ago in Devonport, this weekend athletes will contest the OTU continental titles over twice the distance in Wellington. Several rising stars will vie for the chance to call themselves the fastest triathletes in Oceania on March 9.
Natalie Van Coevorden leads the women’s start list. The Aussie steadily improved her performances at World Triathlon Series and World Cup races last year, finishing out the year with top five finishes at the Tongyeong World Cup, as well as in the Under23 division at the Auckland Grand Final. Charlotte McShane will challenge for the title as she, too, is pegged as an Australian up and comer. McShane was recently the top Aussie at the OTU Sprint Oceania Championships despite a choppy swim.
Though the start list is largely comprised of Australians, the pair will face the likes of New Zealand’s Kate McIlroy. The Kiwi, who made the switch from elite running to triathlon just three years ago, already established herself as one of the best Oceanic athletes when she won the 2013 OTU sprint titles with stellar bike and run performances.
The men’s start list features a deeper pool of athletes with a mixture of rising talent set to challenge a selection of veterans. Peter Kerr (AUS), who has been dubbed the “It” boy of the moment, will no doubt push the field. Kerr claimed the sprint title in Devonport when he pulled away from a core group of men in the final meters.
However, Ryan Bailie (AUS), will no doubt look to avenge the missed gold in Devonport. Bailie hung tight on the fast and furious race, and at times looked poised for the win, proving he is in form to contend for the title.
Expect Tony Dodds (NZL), who beat out Kerr for silver at the Geelong ITU Sprint Oceania Cup, to be up with the leaders. Dodds is strong in all disciplines and posted a sub-15minute 5km split in Geelong suggesting he will have the speed at the end to power home. Don’t count out Under23 world champion Aaron Royle (AUS) and Olympian Ryan Sissons (NZL) from the podium.
In addition to the elite races, the championships will feature U23, junior, paratriathlon and age group events. All the races will be held on Saturday, March 9 with the women taking off at 10:30am local time. The men will follow at 11:45am.