Triathlon and Paratriathlon world titles are up for grabs this weekend on Australia’s Gold Coast. Vicky Holland has the opportunity to become ITU world champion and is one of four British women ranked in the top six. Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee both feature, there’s U23 and junior titles and Britain has defending champions in the paratriathlon, too.
After seven rounds of the ITU World Triathlon Series, the Grand Final is set to decide this year’s world champions on Saturday and Sunday. Holland and USA’s Katie Zaferes are so close to each other on points, and far enough ahead of the rest of the field, that the world title should be a head-to-head battle between the two of them.
Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown currently holds third place and Jessica Learmonth is fourth. Demonstrating the depth of British female performances this season, Jodie Stimpson is sixth and Non Stanford sits inside the top twenty as well.
Holland said: “I finished fourth here on the Gold Coast in the Under 23 race in 2009 and now, here I am, ten years later with my first ever opportunity to challenge for the senior world title. It’s a real privilege to be in this position, and I hope I can make the most of it on Saturday.”
Taylor-Brown added: “I can’t believe I’m in this position of being ranked third going into the Grand Final. I want to go out and have a fun race with the other GB women and try to get the best result I can on the day.”
Alistair Brownlee returns to the site of his first major title win. He captured the first ever Series world title on the Gold Coast in 2009. He and younger brother, Jonathan, may not be challenging for the title this time around, but they are respected figures on any start line and have reputations for delivering big performances when it matters.
Jonathan Brownlee said: “I’ve had some good results on the Gold Coast and I feel like my form has improved towards the end of the season. The world title looks to be sewn up, but the Grand Final is special, anything can happen on the day."
In the junior and U23 races, there are British athletes with the opportunity to prepare and race at the same championships as the seniors, gaining valuable insight into what it might take to secure senior success in the future. Amongst them are juniors Kate Waugh, second last year in Rotterdam, James Chantler-Mayne, fourth last year, and world junior duathlon champion, Matt Willis.
Alex Yee features in Friday’s U23 race after representing GB Athletics in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Berlin last month.
He said: “It’s been a big year of learning for me and I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had, including having had a fairly lengthy block of training in Australia in the lead up to this. I’ll give it everything I’ve got on Friday!”
There’s also Barclay Izzard, who finished inside the top ten at the senior European Championships in Glasgow and Olivia Mathias, a Wales Commonwealth Games representative. In a nod to triathlon’s inclusivity, Sam Dickinson is part of the U23 elite squad, and his brother, Tom, will race the equivalent amateur event in his age group, 20-24, on the Gold Coast as part of the 350 strong Great Britain Age Group Team.
The Great Britain Paratriathlon team dominated last year’s championships in Rotterdam and will be a strong force again this year. Dave Ellis has hopes of defending his title in the visually impaired event along with new guide, Mark Buckingham, an elite medal winner in his own right in this and previous seasons. Paralympic Champion, Andy Lewis is the other British athlete in search of a title defense.
Lauren Steadman, a competitor in this year’s BBC Strictly Come Dancing, will have her eyes on triathlon gold. Having completed her university masters course, her focus this year has already delivered results, and there’s a new level of enjoyment as she prepares to race the Paralympic champion, Grace Norman (USA).
Steadman said: “I’m loving training at the moment and feel like lots of things have come together really well this year. I hope that reflects in how I race on Friday. There’s a good field lining up, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
New British Triathlon Performance Director, Mike Cavendish took up his post on 1 September and is on the Gold Coast. He said: “The Great Britain Triathlon Team has a formidable track record, and I’m really enjoying working with and getting to know the athletes and coaches. The world championships are the pinnacle of the season, and there are opportunities to deliver some big results across the Olympic and Paralympic programmes.”
Schedule (Gold Coast is 9 hours ahead of the UK)
Friday 14 September
10:00am: Under 23 Women (1am UK)
12:45pm: Under 23 Men (3:45am UK)
Saturday 15 September
6:45am: Paratriathlon, multiple start waves (from 9:45pm UK Friday 14 September)
11:30am: Junior Women (2:30am UK)
1:15pm: Junior Men (4:15am UK)
3:06pm: Elite Women (6:06am UK)
Sunday 16 September
1:00pm: Under 23/Junior - Mixed Relay (4:00am UK)
3:06pm: Elite Men (6:06am UK)
How to watch
Great Britain Team; 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast; 12 - 16 September 2018
Men: James Chantler-Mayne, Dan Slater, Matt Willis
Women: Iona Millar, Erin Wallace, Kate Waugh
PTWC: Joe Townsend
PTS 2: Andy Lewis, Fran Brown
PTS 3: Ryan Taylor
PTS 4: Hannah Moore
PTS 5: George Peasgood, Claire Cashmore, Lauren Steadman
PTVI: Dave Ellis (guided by Mark Buckingham), Alison Patrick (guided by Hannah Drewett)