With the postponement of the Abu Dhabi World Triathlon Series due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, attention now falls on Mooloolaba World Cup which will kick off the 2020 season. Many athletes intending on racing Abu Dhabi WTS made quick decisions to jump on a plane to the Sunshine Coast to continue their quest for Olympic selection, a decision that may prove critical with the uncertainty of racing in the near future. The race in Mooloolaba comes just in time with authorities cancelling all major sporting events across Australia from the Monday following.
The complexities of Olympic qualification and the impact that Covid-19 might have on all upcoming races including the Olympics itself is elusive and would require a full article in its own right. It seems only possible to take things one race at a time, and if the ITU sees fit, we may not see a triathlon for many weeks or even months after this weekend.
Despite the uncertainty and precautions set in place, we can expect to see some exciting racing this weekend in both the men's and women's races. After the postponement of Abu Dhabi, the start list saw an injection of big names, making this edition of Mooloolaba WC probably the most competitive yet, and more inline with the quality we expect to see in a WTS event.
In the women's race, the two most notable additions are HUUB's Jessica Learmonth (GBR) and Georgia Taylor-Brown who finished 2nd and 3rd in the WTS rankings in 2019, also joining them is compatriot and Rio Olympic medallist Vicky Holland. Their biggest competition will likely come from home favourite and 2019 winner Ashleigh Gentle (AUS). There is also a strong contingent from the USA as well as a return to the scene from multiple WTS medallist Andrea Hewitt (NZL).
In the men's race, the two favourites are Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Sam Ward (NZL), the Kiwi athletes have raced well in Mooloolaba in the past, and have both risen through the ranks to be considered as two of the strongest athletes on the circuit. However, in similarity to the women's race, we see some additions that will worry them, including HUUB's Alex Yee (GBR). The young Brit is undoubtedly the fastest runner in triathlon at the moment, and if allowed to the front of the race, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone to bet against him. Other names to keep an eye on are Ryan Bailie (AUS), Ryan Sissons (NZL), and HUUB's Richard Varga (SVK). Plus a trio of HUUB GB athletes, Tom Bishop (GBR), Ben Dijkstra (GBR), and Sam Dickinson (GBR) who will all be working hard to nail down that third Olympic spot for Great Britain.