Stepping stone to the big time
THIS weekend Romy Wolstencroft joins illustrious company.
Following in the footsteps of Toby Coote and Dave Dellow, the 19-year-old will race in the junior elite division at Saturday’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final at the Gold Coast.
“I’m a bit nervous but I’m just trying to treat it like any other race,” she said.
Savannah Wayner was the last Sunshine Coast athlete to represent Australia in the junior elite division, although she competed in duathlon during 2015.
Wolstencroft becomes just the third Coast product to reach elite triathlon ranks and enters her first major international race following an eight-week training camp under the guidance of TriSutto’s Cameron Watt.
While overseas she raced in the Holten ETU European Cup sprint race where she finished ninth (01:04:55, only 47 seconds behind the winner), and also got her first taste of professional racing at the 5150 Zurich. The all-conquering Daniela Ryf was victorious in 1hr 56min 18sec, while Wolstencroft was fourth with an effort of 2:10:18 in a race she did “to see how the swim-bike was going”.
Coming from a swimming background, where she spent about three years in the pool and another three in open water racing, Wolstencroft has risen rapidly through the ranks under the guidance of former coach Toby Coote of Sunshine Coast Tri Academy.
“I was competitive in that and I got bored..I wasn’t really going anywhere in that because I’m not really the build for a swimmer,” she said.
“I was alright at running, so Dad taught me how to ride a bike and then got involved with SCTA and then spent the past few years with them developing.
“I had a good training background from swimming so I could punish myself a bit.”
Despite her swimming foundation, Wolstencroft regularly finds herself chasing once on land. Often slow out of the blocks, she regularly comes home with an outstanding run leg.
Graduating from Matthew Flinders Anglican College last year she is focussed on triathlon for the short term with an ultimate ambition of making a world elite team.
“This is my first serious year. Once I graduated from school I wanted to give it a really good shot and that (ITU junior elite) was the goal for this year. I really didn’t set a goal beyond that,” she said.
“Now I just have to compete to my best ability.
“I’m doing a couple of part-time jobs and then I’m heading down to Brissy for uni next year to do (medical or mechanical) engineering at QUT.”
For Coote, her selection was testament to a local program dedicated to helping talented youngsters make the top grade.
“The reason why I started doing this was because I had to leave here to progress,” Coote said.
“We have a bloody good place to train...it’s all about progressing and developing juniors. You are not there for an ego boost, I’m there to help and it’s giving back to the sport.”
Wolstencroft was the winner of last year’s SCTA Protector Aluminium scholarship which further boosted her development.
Transferring into the elite ranks isn’t easy, but the staged progression makes it easier for modern athletes compared to the old baptism by fire.
“We went straight into the elites against Miles (Stewart) and Crowie (Craig Alexander). It was sink or swim,” Coote said.
JUNIOR ELITE: Romy Wolstencroft in training with father Matthew (left) and Nathan Fitzakerley ahead of the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final at the Gold Coast.