Why we got the bum steer

Multisport Mecca - - News - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­wards@news.com.au

THREE key fac­tors led to one of the weak­est fields in elite Mooloolaba Triathlon his­tory com­pet­ing on Satur­day.

It was an Aussie dou­ble in both ITU World Cup races, with Luke Wil­lian win­ning the men’s race and Emma Jack­son se­cur­ing the women’s ti­tle.

But over­shad­ow­ing the re­sults were ath­letes who were not at Mooloolaba.

The com­bi­na­tion of a post-Rio down­turn, the shift from sprint dis­tance to Olympic dis­tance and the im­pend­ing new Su­per League Triathlon all saw the big guns shun the Sun­shine Coast.

Many of the world’s best men are al­ready in Aus­tralia, with the likes of English Olympic gold medal cham­pion Alis­tair Brown­lee, Span­ish five-time ITU win­ner Javier Gomez Noya and com­pa­triot Mario Mola Diaz, South African pow­er­house Richard Mur­ray, along with Aussie stars Ryan Bailie, Jake Birtwhis­tle, Ryan Fisher and Aaron Royle all now on Hamil­ton Is­land for the three-day Su­per League chall­nge.

“With the (April 8) world tri se­ries on the Gold Coast be­ing a sprint and New Ply­mouth (March 22) be­ing a sprint, the think­ing was that Mooloolaba should be an Olympic dis­tance,” Iron­man Ocea­nia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor David Beeche said.

“It’s al­ways a chal­lenge in a post-Olympic year.

“You get this slump where ath­letes are tak­ing some time out, un­der­tak­ing a dif­fer­ent style of rac­ing or think­ing about other things be­fore they start their build-up to Com­mon­wealth Games.

“We are still com­mit­ted to ITU and the ITU prod­uct.

“It’s a great show­piece for the sport and work­ing out how col­lec­tively as a sport we deal with this Olympic year hang­over, for want of a bet­ter term, is some­thing that has been an is­sue since triathlon was in­tro­duced at Sydney Olympics in 2000.”

Of­fer­ing ath­letes ad­di­tional travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cen­tives re­mains an op­tion.

There is an es­tab­lished pro­to­col as to what elites are pro­vided, de­pend­ing on the event and level of ath­lete, and it may be that greater in­cen­tives are re­quired to lure ath­letes back to the Coast.

Prize­money for first at Mooloolaba was $7500, whereas Su­per League is of­fer­ing $100,000. Iron­man and the ITU will be watch­ing with in­ter­est this week­end.

“This kind of thing isn’t new in the sport. It’s been done be­fore with new for­mats and big prize­money and all the prom­ises that get made at the early stage of a new prod­uct,” David said.

“Time will tell. These prod­ucts have come and gone be­fore.

“When that prize­money is thrown its hard to blame the ath­letes for chas­ing the money.”

PHOTO: GRANT ED­WARDS

One of the small­est elite fields com­peted at the 2017 Mooloolaba Triathlon.

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