By Merryn Sherwood on 07/04/15 at 9:44 am
Australia’s Gold Coast has already witnessed plenty of triathlon history. It hosted just the third ITU World Championships in 1991, before becoming the first Grand Final host when the World Triathlon Series made its debut in 2009. Now the host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games is back on the Series circuit this weekend, and all of the top ranked athletes are out to play.
It has almost been a full calendar year since Gwen Jorgensen was beaten in a World Triathlon Series race. Since Cape Town in 2014, where she finished third, the reigning World Champion has collected seven consecutive race titles. That has taken her career tally to 10 total World Triathlon Series wins.
While the introduction of the World Triathlon Series means its hard to make comparisons to different eras of the sport, it’s worth considering where Jorgensen’s run sits in ITU history. Australia’s Emma Carney was unbeaten across 12 ITU World Cup races in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, but did not win ITU World Championships in those years when the race was a single-day championship. That puts Carney’s impressive unbeaten streaks at five races long. Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes, the most successful World Cup winner with 20 titles, had two unbeaten streaks of nine races in her career, which did include European cup races, European Championships and Duathlon world title races. Put simply, Jorgensen is entering rare territory, and will be the overwhelming favourite to continue that winning streak on the Gold Coast.
From the start of the 2015 season it would seem that Jorgensen’s biggest rivals will come from within her own national team. After a string of bad luck in World Triathlon Series races in 2014, Katie Zaferes has captured silver behind Jorgensen in the past two races. In Gold Coast, the U.S. will field a nine-strong team, including Jorgensen, Zaferes, WTS winner Sarah True and top-10 ranked Lindsey Jerdonek.
Others who have been in form so far in 2015 include Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who picked up her first World Triathlon Series podium place in Abu Dhabi, Mooloolaba World Cup winner Tamara Gomez Garrido, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, Australia’s Emma Moffatt and Ashleigh Gentle and the Canadian team of Kirsten Sweetland,Paula Findlay, Sarah-Anne Brault and Amelie Kretz.
Also expect the crowd to warmly welcome back London Olympic bronze medallist Erin Densham. Injury and illness have interrupted her past two seasons, and 2015 was then rudely interrupted by a nasty bike crash just last month, but she is back on the start list for the Queensland event. The course also holds special significance for Australia’s Moffatt, as she won the race when it was last held in 2009, which earned her the overall world championship crown.
The women will get underway at 11:00am local time. Click here for to convert the start time to your time zone. Watch the races live on triathlonlive.tv and follow on @triathlonlive for play by play updates.
The women’s start list will begin with the No. 2, as the No. 1 spot will be left open as a tribute to the remarkable Jackie Fairweather, who passed away in November of 2014. While Jorgensen is ranked first in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, she will sport No. 2, with the golden bike rack also left open in transition to remember Fairweather and her great contributions to the sport of triathlon. Fairweather was an ITU World Champion, Hall of Fame nominee, board member, high performance manager, coach & event commentator. She was also an accomplished runner, having won bronze at the Commonwealth Games for Australia in 2002. For more on her life, click here.
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