Mooloolaba the start point for Courtney Atkinson on Road to Rio
Come 1:30pm Saturday afternoon, two-time Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson admits he will be both “anxious and excited” when the gun goes to start this year’s ITU Triathlon Mooloolaba World Cup.
For the 36-year-old veteran of Beijing and London and a name synonymous with Australian triathlon across two decades it will be his official start point for a tilt at a third Olympic campaign in Rio next year.
But don’t expect any miracles from the Gold Coast father of two just yet, a man who knows the game inside out; knows what he has to do when he needs to do it but also understands it’s a long road back as he strives to become the first Australian triathlete to contest three Olympics.
Along with fellow Beijing and London Olympian, 2008 bronze medallist Emma Moffatt, Atkinson is the link to an era when some of his current day opponents were only just starting primary school.
For them, the Olympics in 2008 were about school projects, cutting and pasting pictures of the likes of Courtney Atkinson and Brad Kahlefeldt on large pieces of green and gold cardboard with the Olympic rings, the Aussie flag and the Olympic torch.
When he took off on the bike in the Oceania Championships in Devonport recently he joined six riders out of the swim and admits he honestly didn’t recognise any of them.
Among those names - Jacob Birtwhistle, Declan Wilson, Kenji Nener and Matt Baker – are part of a current generation who will be dreaming of turning their Olympic aspirations from the school projects into reality – if not for 2016 then certainly for 2020 in Japan.