Australians Matthew Hauser and Brittany Dutton topped the podium in the first Continental Cup race to be held in the Island Nation of Fiji. With a “Team Oceania” development camp having been run over the last week, athletes from four Pacific Nations were on the start line along with a number of Aussies and Kiwis.
In the Men’s race a group of a dozen athletes hit T1 together after the 750m swim and stayed together throughout the 3 lap 20Km bike course. As the temperatures climbed into the high 20’s, the bunch began to split apart as the run progressed and it was Hauser who eventually established a small gap and held on to win by eight seconds from Matthew Baker (AUS) with a further 20 seconds back to Luke Willan (AUS). In a strong day for the Aussies, they filled eight of the top 10 places with Ben Shaw(IRL) in seventh place the first to break up the posse in Green and Gold at the finish line. The first of the Kiwis was Cameron Todd who finished in eleventh place after crashing towards the end of the bike.
There were similarly strong performances from the Australian women. Danielle De Francesco built a lead of over a minute in the swim. She retained the lead heading into T2 but it had been whittled down to less than 30 seconds over Brittany Dutton(AUS) and Maddie Dillon (NZL). Onto the run and the Youth Olympic Games champion Dutton quickly pulled clear of Dillon and set about reeling in her country-women eventually catching her and pulling clear to win by 10 seconds having posted the quickest run split of the day. Katherine Badham (NZL) also turned in a strong run split, catching Dillon to claim the bronze.
Oceania Triathlon Union President and ITU Board Member Terry Sheldrake, in Fiji for the annual OTU Congress meeting also being held in Fiji this weekend, was delighted with the success of the event. “We have been working hard to develop our sport throughout Oceania and it’s great to be racing here in Fiji this weekend. It’s also fantastic to see the athletes from Team Oceania (athletes from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands) completing their first Continental Cup race”.
As well as the Continental Cup race the event includes age group races over sprint and long course distances.