Triathlon Wrap: Triathlon’s 2020 vision after impressive Rio results

Published 22 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: Erin Densham (50) of Australia, Jolanda Annen (17) of Switzerland and Claudia Rivas (29) of Mexico ride during the Women's Triathlon on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Fort Copacabana on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

TRIATHLON: There may not have been medals won, but in the competitive world that is Olympic triathlon Australia has certainly continued to confirm its presence on the world stage.

Two top ten finishers in the men from Games debutants Aaron Royle (ninth) and Ryan Bailie (10th) and brilliant performances by triple Olympians Emma Moffatt (sixth) and Erin Densham (12th) highlighted the team’s Rio efforts.

And although disappointed, debutants Ryan Fisher (26th) and Ashleigh Gentle (24th) can hold their heads high, knowing full well they have bright futures leading into Tokyo 2020.

“Particularly in the men with those two young lads Royle and Bailie who were in the top 10 – and Ryan Fisher who is a great athlete for us going forward and then you throw Jake Birtwhistle into the mix at the moment as well,” said Olympic Team Leader Bernard Savage.

“Historically our men’s results haven’t been as good as the girls– but Aaron’s done a couple of podiums in the WTS and Ryan Bailie is knocking on the door with three or four fourths.

“His progression’s been fantastic. Ryan’s just a consummate professional; he just gets about and gets things done.

“His performance here was outstanding – but for a couple of critical moments, Ryan could have been in that front group and then who knows, but he’s handled that really well and been quite reflective on that and there’s lots of moments in the race that could go one way or another and maybe influence the result.

“I certainly think that he and Aaron have demonstrated over the past two to three years that they are going to be factors for us going forward.

“I don’t think it’s too long before we see Ryan Bailie on the podium in a WTS event.

“And behind that we’ve got some really good young talent that we’re excited about. So I think from a longevity point of view we’ve got some people there that will build us into 2020 and keep us pushing through, and certainly on the women’s side we’ve got a couple of girls on the junior side that I think will push through.

“In the girls race, I was really happy with the way they all performed. They certainly left nothing out there – they’ve delivered and I think it’s the best we could have hoped for.

“It would have been nice to win a medal and continue the tradition as the only nation to have medalled at every Games. Moffatt and Densham delivered in spades and I couldn’t have been happier with their results.

“They have been amazing athletes for us over three Olympics and they have also been great ambassadors.

“We’ve got some really exciting talent coming through on both sides.

“You’ve got Ashleigh Gentle who raced today and obviously didn’t get the result she was looking for, but she’s a super talent and I think she’ll be one of the contenders going forward for us.

“She’s demonstrated this year she’s a podium potential athlete, she’s got two podiums in the world series and she’s done that on good courses so I think she’ll definitely be one of our leading females going forward.

“You’ve got Charlotte McShane in the mix as well – so there’s some girls there that will build for us moving forward, and some young athletes coming through that I think are going to be really exciting for us.”

Looking back, Savage believes the sport thought things would just keep rolling on and unfortunately he says “pathways take a while to address.”

“We identified those things in London, the fixes for us weren’t going to be instantaneous, we became aware of the fact that we had a little bit of a gap in the women we had coming through and certainly in the men,” Savage said.

On the question of funding, Savage said”: “We put forward a strong case to the Australian Sports Commission for our funding and I know that they’re happy with the work we’ve been doing to address some structural inefficiencies we’ve had in the sport.

“We’ve planned for what they’ve committed to us at the moment and we’re comfortable we can do the job with that

Ian Hanson

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