Patience pays as Coleman and Perkins deliver the goods in Oceania Cup
Gold Coast training partners Dan Coleman and Kelly-Ann Perkins have broken through for career best performances with impressive victories in their respective OTU Oceania Cup races at Mooloolaba today.
The two National Triathlon Academy athletes, out of the Dan Atkins Triathlon Performance Centre at Pizzey Park, showed the benefit “of lessons learnt” to finally taste the fruits of success over the testing Standard (Olympic) Distance course.
Courtesy Barry Alsop - Eyes Wide Open Images
It followed hot on the heels of Jake Birtwhistle’s silver and Ashleigh Gentle’s bronze medals in yesterday’s ITU Mooloolaba World Cup over the Sprint Distance and capped a successful weekend for the Australians.
Today’s Standard (Olympic Distance) races started out with a 1.5km surf swim, off the southern end of Mooloolaba beach, followed by the unusual 800m soft sand run, before entering transition leading into the 40km out-and-back bike course and the 10km run.
Organisers moved the swim, to the protected southern corner away from the dumping 1.5m waves in the middle of the beach, but it meant the fields had to run a kilometre, including 800 metres of that along the sand, before starting the ride.
For Coleman, who has not been able to put his races together this season, today was the day that everything came together.
“I was really happy with the way I swam – that was the goal before the race – I had to be in the main group and I don’t think many expected me to up there with the top swimmers but I was able to stay there,” said the 19-year-old, who was third to yesterday’s World Cup silver medallist Jake Birtwhistle, in this race last year.
“The soft sand run was actually quite tiring coming up the beach, I thought it would have worked to my advantage but it really flogged you in the legs.”
It placed him in the second group, on the bike, and it was then a matter of keeping his head with the breakaway group of six riders holding a handy lead, reminding himself not to get too carried away and going too hard too early on the run.
He convinced himself it was important to make the right play at the precise time.
“Christian Wilson and myself made the decision, coming onto the motorway on the bike, that we would hold back a little bit because we saw the big group coming from behind and waited for them to catch up,” said Coleman.
“I was 25 seconds behind heading into the run and knew the Canadian Matt Sharpe was experienced and had done a few of these races and once he stayed out in front on the run I didn’t really know how I was feeling.
“I just waited and played the game. At four-kilometres to go I knew I could pick up the pace and go past him and tried to extend the gap.
“After some disappointing races this year and a lot of lessons learnt it was a great feeling to win this one – my greatest achievement so far.”
Coleman raced away to win comfortably from Sharpe with Victorian Joel Tobin-White hanging on for a confidence boosting bronze medal.
Other Australians in the top 10 were: Marcel Walkington 5th, Calvin Quirk 6th, Ben Cook 7th, Brandon Copeland 8th, Drew Box 9th and Christian Wilson 10th.
The women’s race saw Perkins, the former champion surf lifesaving Ironwoman from the Sunshine Coast, also bide her time after trailing former Australian Open Water swimmer Danielle De Francesco by 1 minute 30 out of the swim.
“I tried to keep the swim a bit more reserved knowing that my run is my strength,” said Perkins.
“It’s pretty important to know your opposition, know what tactics they’re trying to play to and use your tactics to minimise advantage and I feel like I did that today.
“I love coming here and doing home races. It’s nice to be able to go back home on the Sunshine Coast and relax before leading into the race.
“The race feels like a training session than a race when I get to do it at home.
“Every race is a learning curve for me and I try to take as many lessons out of each race as I can.
“My bike is really improving and my legs allow me to run a bit stronger at the end now that the bike is up to scratch.”
Perkins (above) led home an Australian quinella in the women’s race with Courtney Gillfillan storming home to take the silver medal with New Zealand’s Deborah Lynch, who worked hard on the bike to put herself in contention, taking home the bronze with Japanese veteran Olympian Kiyomi Niwata fourth and De Francesco, who led out of the swim and was first off the bike, holding on to fifth.
De Francesco dominated the swim and bike legs looking composed and strong, managing to hold onto a 1:45 lead out on the bike but didn’t quite have the legs to keep up with the likes of young guns, Gillfillan and Ne Lynch.
Other Australians in the top 10 were Laura Dennis 7th, Sarah Deuble 9th and Grace Deveson 10th.
Sharpe silverware for Canada
Canada’s 2016 Olympic hopeful, Matt Sharpe, who spends time between Australia Canada and Spain across the year - is currently training with the Wollongong Wizards. Sharpe was thrilled to bank second place today and claimed that it’s been a long road with injuries - today’s race result was boosting for the young gun.
“I felt a lot of fatigue but I really wanted to push that first bit of the run and try and get a good gap and I did.
“Unfortunately I got caught with about 4km to go but I just focused on my form and holding the right pace.
“I had to be a bit tactical coming into the finish, I knew I had the sprint in end and I was able to use it today. I am ecstatic. It’s been a long road for me, I have had injuries over the past year and a half so to be able to do this today is encouraging.
“It was on from the get-go.
“Out of the swim we had the run on the beach which was thrown in at the last minute but we all took it in our stride and you just deal with what comes.
“On the bike we luckily had about six of us and everybody was working hard and yelling encouragement.
“You’ve got to have the team time trial going because that’s the way it is for this course.”