THE journey towards Tokyo 2020 continues to build momentum for Nowra-born triathlete Jonathan Goerlach, after claiming silver at Yokohama at the weekend.
Goerlach and his guide Sam Douglas, competing in the PTVI category, finished the Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon Series course in 1:02:49 - just 33 seconds behind winner Jose Luis Garcia Serrano from Spain.
The former Bomaderry High School student credits his extensive preparation to their strong showing in Japan.
"Sam and I had been preparing really well - both individually and as a team," Goerlach said.
"We train together every Friday, where Sam travels down from Sydney to Wollongong, so we can work with my coach Brendan Sexton.
"It is during these sessions where we have been concentrating on our tandem bike and open water swimming skills together.
"Three weeks out from Yokohama we put this training into practice at Elite Energy's race in Penrith (SPRX3) - that was a fun hit-out that also allowed us to work on our transitions and us well as work out any kinks we had before Yokohama."
All of these enabled to the 36-year-old and his guide to produce another strong showing on the world stage, across the sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) course.
"It was an early start in Yokohama, with us getting underway at 6.50am," Goerlach said.
"Despite a couple of the top guys in the world not being at the event, as they raced last month in Milan, a solid field was still assembled.
"Looking back on the race, we executed our plan perfectly - all our our splits, except the swim, were the fastest of any pair.
"Obviously I know my swimming is my weakness but Sam and I both feel I'm not far off matching it with the top athletes in that leg - we know it's only a matter of time before I get to the necessary level.
"I did a four minute personal best from the exact same race last year, which I was really disappointed with - I couldn't be happier with my form and the result as a whole."
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The pair will now shift their attention's to Montreal in a month's time.
"Even though there are only a couple of weeks until Montreal, both Sam and I trust what we are doing in training will lead to more incremental improvements, especially in the swim," Goerlach said.
"I've never been pushed this hard before in training and are doing things I've never done before, like standing up on the bike, which we used for the first time in Yokohama - it's such a huge weapon that other teams have got and now we have at our disposal.
"We have also been practising powering out of corners and different techniques for dismounting the bike, to emulate the able bodied athletes.
"At the end of the day, it's all about shaving seconds off your race time where you can and I think we are constantly doing that."
To ensure Goerlach and Douglas continue to produce across the three legs, they recently attended a five-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport following the race at Yokohama.
"The camp was based around skill acquisition, such as technical aspects of the race and sports psychology, rather than a heavy training schedule - it's was a really good experience," he said.
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"There were plenty of things we've taken away from the camp that we will implement in our home training regimes - in sport getting those one per centers right is so important and these techniques will help as get us closer to being where we want to be."
With just over 12 months until the Paralympics, every event from now on is crucial, starting with Montreal on June 28 - which is the first race that is part of the qualification process.
"This is a big race - it all starts to get very serious form now on," he said.
"We have been training hard for the past 18 months to set ourselves up for this.
"As we are ranked in the top four in the world, we automatically qualify for all of these big meets - we are in a really good position."
Following the race in Canada, the pair will have a very busy couple of months, including a test event at Tokyo (August 18), the world championships at Lausanne (September 1) and the world cup at Banyoles (Spain) on September 8.
"It is really important we get a couple of strong results early in the qualification piece, as you don't want to be chasing points late," he said.
"The aim is to get a strong three results under our belts, because if we do that, we can go a long way to finishing in the top 10 in the rankings, which would most likely book our spot at the Paralympics."