Image: Delly Carr / Triathlon Australia
Rising triathlon star Matilda Offord takes out her second victory in 2022 in an exciting weekend of Triathlon competition as Australia’s best triathletes begin to target Commonwealth Games trials.
Sydney’s rising triathlon star Matilda Offord had coach Liam O’Neill’s words ringing in her ears as she rode into transition before sprinting away to record her second win of the year in today’s Mooloolaba Triathlon Oceania Cup.
And like Loran Redmond before her, Offord too claimed the first of two automatic Under 23 Australian Team selections for the Abu Dhabi World Championships, with the other going to the ACT’s fifth placed Ellie Hoitink.
Two weeks ago at the Devonport Oceania Cup (Sprint Distance) the 23-year-old from Cobbitty near Camden (southwest of Sydney) took it easy as she entered the T2 transition at the back of the pack before running away with her first Elite win.
But O’Neill, the newly appointed Head Coach at the NSW Performance Centre, wasn’t happy and when asked what she was doing riding in last and Offord admitted she was “having rest.”
Offord, who is quickly making a name for herself as one of a new breed of young women in the sport, heeded O’Neill’s words of advice.
And as they say there was “no rest for the wicked” today over the Olympic Distance (1.5km swim; 40km bike and 10km run) course.
“Liam gave me ‘a razz’ after Devonport for getting into T2 last so I made a conscious effort to make sure I came into transition first and out first, letting the (other) girls know that here’s the gauntlet and to come and get me.
“I came here just to get that Under 23 spot for World’s and Liam just said wherever you fall going into the run just give it a go.
“I hit the lead from the start and Ellie (Hoitink) ran up to my shoulder over the first hill.
“I made a move about five kilometres out and was able to run within myself and just keep that gap.
“It was just all about grabbing that automatic spot and you can’t ask for more than that and I’m a bit shocked to be honest.
“The Olympic distance is really new to me, coming off my Sprint distance win in Devonport, it’s still a little bit uncomfortable, the more you do the better you’ll get, so I’m just embracing the longer distance and the pain…”
There were also impressive performances from experienced Elites, former training partners Charlotte McShane and Natalie Van Coevorden, who finished second and third respectively, charging home in the run.
The pair have both set their sights on the Gold Coast Triathlon automatic Commonwealth Games selection race on April 3, with McShane saying it was nice to have Nat “the pacing queen” back home.
“That was my first proper Olympic Distance for four years, going back to 2018, the first time I’ve been fit enough to race it….but you have to be ready at some point,” said McShane.
“I knew I was fit enough after chasing fitness from injury after injury, although the run was comfortable I was nervous with my pacing and maybe I could have gone a little bit harder, earlier in the run but it was still a good result.
“I’m aiming towards April 3 and dropping down to the Sprint will be nice but I want to swim well because I need to be there at the beginning of the run to make a difference.”
Van Coevorden, home from her European training and competition bases for the first time in 21 months said she knew what she wanted to do.
“Leading out of the swim was my tactic and to see if I could hold on but it turned in to a bit of a running race,” said Van Coevorden.
“But considering all things I’m happy to be in this kind of shape at this time of the year.
“I’ve built that endurance into my training and the consistency with not being injured. I’m happy with how it turned out and happy with third
“I just wish I had another 200 metres at the end…I think I had a bit more in me in the run.”
Lorcan Redmond took out the Elite Men’s title at the Mooloolaba Triathlon Oceania Cup. (Delly Carr / Triathlon Australia)
In the Elite Men’s race Newcastle’s former star junior, Lorcan Redmond, used a combination of relaxation and people power to break through for his first elite victory in today’s Mooloolaba Triathlon Oceania Cup.
And it earned the 21-year-old automatic selection on the Under 23 Australian Triathlon Team for this year’s World Championships in Abu Dhabi in November.
The Gold Coast-based Redmond will be joined on the Australian Team by today’s third placed finisher, WA’s Wollongong-based Luke Bate, who earned the second automatic spot up for grabs – with both boys easily inside the top eight criteria.
Second home was 2018 Commonwealth Games representative Luke Willian who like Redmond and Bates, will use today’s race as the pre-curser to the April 3 Gold Coast Triathlon (Sprint Distance) and the first selection race for this year’s Games in Birmingham.
Today’s course consisted of a 1.5km swim across Mooloolaba Beach before embarking on a 40km bike and a 10km run with Redmond very much in control of his race as it wound through the Mooloolaba streets in the ideal early morning conditions.
And with the crucial run leg and an encouraging third place behind teammate Matt Hauser over the Oceania Cup sprint distance in Devonport a fortnight ago, Redmond was hungry to improve today.
He bided his time through the first eight kilometres of the run – setting up a powerful finish – as the field set itself up for the final run stretch south, down the Mooloolaba hill from Alexandra Headlands.
“I’ve got all my family here, all mates here, my roommate here and the whole Dan Atkins crew drove up last night and others first thing this morning, it’s really cool to get everyone out here and cheering us on; I’m stoked with the win,” said Redmond.
“I’ve had a few years off with injuries but I’m back and ready to hit the air hard and the race today panned out just the way I wanted it to.
“My big goal was to come here today and get that automatic qualifying spot; I have not won an Elite race yet so that was my first Elite win too.
“The key for me today was to stay relaxed the whole way and to hit those critical moments (and the major one) for me was the last two kilometres in the run.
“I’m good mates with Luke Bate, so I was stoked to see him get on the podium too.”
Redmond will now head to Coolum under Triathlon Australian Gold Coast-based performance coach Dan Atkins, admitting he wasn’t getting carried away or too far ahead of himself.
“I’ll just taking each day as it is and we’ll just see how the year goes,” said Redmond.
Para-triathlon stars were caught in a sudden deluge during competition. (Delly Carr / Triathlon Australia)
Gold Coast 2018 bronze medallist and Paralympic silver medallist Lauren Parker and her Tokyo team-mates David Bryant, Jono Goerlach, Nic Beveridge and track and field transfer Sam Harding were amongst the 17-strong field that were caught in the sudden rainstorm.
And it came after a bright start to the day, despite the normal 750m-ocean swim being transferred to the Stockton Olympic pool because of poor water quality, caused by recent flooding.
Pool racing became particularly tricky for the PTVI (Vision Impaired) duos of Tokyo track and field finalist over 1500m, Harding and his guide Luke Harvey and Tokyo paratriathlete Goerlach and his guide David Mainwaring – who swim connected with a tether.
“We managed to figure out a pretty good way to keep the tether without getting tangled in the pool swim,” said Harding.
“And then Luke did awesome on the ride because it was wet and there were a few puddles, but I felt comfortable, which was cool.”
Harvey admitting it was “better to be safe than sorry.”
“(With the rain) you can either lose a second on the bike or you can lose a couple of minutes by coming down so (I decided to be) a little bit more conservative,” said Harvey.
“I think we were still pretty quick through the turns, but we’ve still got a fair bit of room to improve.”
Goerlach also admitted when the rain kicked in on the bike leg, it made (the conditions) a little bit trickier with the corners in only the pair’s second race back from Tokyo, as the PTIV class prepares for inclusion on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games program.
“We have got new competition now in Sammy Harding. I’ve been calling him the real deal because he’s already racing at the level of the guys that are the benchmark in my category in the vision impairment,” said Goerlach.
“And it’s awesome for us to have someone to chase now because I’ve not had that in the ten years I’ve been in the sport.
“There’s not a lot of depth in vision-impaired men and women in sport in Australia, so it’s awesome to see Sammy transition across from athletics and he’s already doing so well, and he’s got an amazing guide in Luke as well.”
In the end it was Harding, with his impressive running background and Harvey who added win number two after their debut success in the Devonport Oceania Cup a fortnight ago, in 1:02.15 from Goerlach and Mainwaring (1:05.09).
The women’s PTVI going to Caroline Baird (1:22.21) with guide Annabel White, ahead of Erica Burleigh (1:32.03) with guide Rosie Nash.
Parker admitted there were times on her handcycle that the driving rain forced her to slow down and was hurting her face it was that heavy.
“On a handcycle your face is skywards and the rain was painful on your face it was that hard – we had to really watch ourselves and slow down,” said Parker, who won her second race in two days after contesting the Mooloolaba Sprint yesterday and flying into her home town Newcastle last night.
“The rain started seven kilometres into the bike and it stopped about one kilometre towards the end of the bike so most of the second half of the bike it kept pouring down with rain.”
Parker made it a double in Stockton, taking the win in 1:10.38 from the Gold Coast’s Sara-Ashlee Tait (1:24.52) while dual Paralympian Nic Beveridge won the men’s race in 1:06.44.
WA’s Bryant was first across the line overall from Victoria’s PTS5 debutant Jack Howell who was only officially classified by World Triathlon on Friday.
Bryant crossed the line in 1:00.49, followed by 20-year-old Howell in 1:03.26 to kick-start a new career as a fully classified paratriathlete for the already accomplished boy from Berwick in Melbourne, while Molly Wallace won the women’s PTS5 class in 1:24.54.
Jeremy Peacock went on to win the PTS4 in 1:03.43 from Liam Twomey (1:05.01) and Clint Pickin 1:07.53 with the women’s PTS4 race going to Hannah Macdougall 1:56.38.
While the experienced Glen Jarvis took out the PTS2 in 1:21.57; Justin Godfrey the PTS3 in 1:10.20 with Anu Francis the women’s in 1:25.18.
With thanks Triathlon Australia.