THE clock is counting down for several local triathletes who are in the final stages of training for next month’s ITU Age Group World Triathlon Championships in London.
Nine members of Jervis Bay Triathlon Club have qualified to wear the green and gold, topping the record eight club members who travelled to Auckland last year.
Vincentia’s Tim O’Shea, 17, is the youngest member to represent his country, while Marcus Vowels, also from Vincentia, is making his debut appearance at world level at the age of 71.
Both are racing in the sprint event on September 13 where they will be joined by Mark Emerton, Tim O’Connell, Kate Staples, and Bill Frazer.
Annette Sampson, Louise Heywood, and Jay Luke will be representing Australia in the Olympic or standard distance event two days later, while Paula Luke will be competing for New Zealand, making it a Luke household battle of the nations.
To qualify for the worlds, competitors must earn points based on their placings in up to three qualifying races held over the summer triathlon season.
This has seen club members skipping around the country to events as far away as Mandurah, Western Australia and Devonport, Tasmania.
Vowels says representing Australia in the 70 to 74 age group is something he had never in his wildest dreams imagined to be a possibility.
Vowels made a last-minute decision to enter the final sprint qualifying race in Redcliffe in Queensland, where he finished third.
He said he became involved in triathlon after deciding in 2008 to work on his cardiac fitness, given a serious family history of cardiac events and high cholesterol.
After entering an Elite Energy Enticer race for extra motivation, he was hooked.
He signed up for the full series and later worked up to sprint distance.
”It will be an honour to just participate and finish in the green and gold,” he said.
As the youngest team member, Tim O’Shea said he is excited about the opportunity to race on course similar to the Olympics last year and has been training hard for the event.
Tim was in blistering form at last Sunday’s club training session at Iluka in Booderee National Park.
Culburra’s Tim O’Connell is backing up for London having also represented Australia at last year’s world championships in Auckland.
He said he had a less than ideal race there, but enjoyed every moment of it.
He hopes for a better result this year and aims for a time of around one hour and 10 minutes, though transitions between the different legs of the race can be long and congested.
“Once again I’m just happy to represent my country and soak up the experience,” he said.
For Huskisson’s Annette Sampson, London will be the result of a long trip back from injury following a 2010 accident after her debut at the 2009 World Championships on the Gold Coast.
She said she started the last triathlon season uncertain whether she could even compete in the Olympic distance, but made the team after winning the 50 to 54 age group at qualifying races in Canberra and Wollongong.
Club president, Tony Lim, said that, as a smaller club, Jervis Bay punched well above its weight when it came to international representation.
The world championships will be held in London’s Hyde Park where the Olympic Triathlon was staged last year and Australia’s Erin Densham claimed bronze.
For the week, Trafalgar Square will be renamed Triathlon Square and thousands of athletes will swim, bike and run for national glory.