Triathlon Australia will send a seven-strong team of Under 23s into this year’s 2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals in Pontevedra, Spain on September 23 and 24, continuing a strong tradition of representation and success dating back to 2002.
The all-Queensland-based team consists of four females, Charlotte Derbyshire (ex-South Australia), Ellie Hoitink, Tara Sosinski and Jess Ewart-McTigue and with Bradley Course, Oscar Dart (ex-Victoria) and Lachlan Jones lining up in the men’s field.
The men will race on September 23 and the women on September 24 which will also see Australia’s Age Group, Elites and Para athletes in action with automatic Paris 2024 Olympic nomination on the line.
Australia has had some outstanding successes in the Under 23s division over the past two decades with Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion Brad Kahlefeldt, crowned Australia’s first Under 23s World Champion in Cancun in 2002 – spring boarding the boy from Wagga Wagga to two Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
The same year also saw future three-time Kona World Championship winner Mirinda Carfrae finish with silver ahead of Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, who would go on to win Olympic gold in London (2012) and silver in Rio (2016).
Since 2010, Australia has produced four Under 23 World Champions in Emma Jackson (2010), Aaron Royle (2012), Charlotte McShane (2013) and Jake Birtwhistle (2015) with Gillian Backhouse winning silver in (2014) and Declan Wilson (2013), Luke Willian (2017) and Matt Hauser (2021) all claiming bronze.
One man who knows what kind of springboard to international racing it can provide is Australia’s National Talent Development Coach, Brendan Sexton, himself a World Under 23s silver medallist in 2007, who would go on to represent Australia at the 2012 Olympics in London.
“The Under 23 Worlds is certainly an ideal passport to future international success and these seven young Australians know the opportunity it presents,” said Sexton, who will take the team into Pontevedra.
“It is certainly an exciting young group capable of anything on their day - from 19-year-old Bradley Course who will back up after racing at the World Juniors earlier in the year in Hamburg, to first timers Jess Ewart-McTigue, Lachlan Jones and Tara Sosinski who has missed the last two Junior Worlds with injury.
“Oscar Dart has made the most of his opportunities, stepping up to the World Cups while Charlotte Derbyshire and Ellie Hoitink can’t wait to get there…their enthusiasm is infectious.
“They form an exciting group with bright futures, and I know they will do Australia proud.”
A second Under 23 World Championship opportunity is not lost on Hoitink, 17th in Abu Dhabi last year. The 23-year-old say’s she is chomping at the bit.
“I'm absolutely thrilled about competing in Pontevedra this year. It's my second opportunity to proudly represent Australia at the U/23 World Championships,” said Hoitink.
“Wearing the iconic green and gold colours and showcasing my talent on the global stage fills me with immense pride.
“I've introduced some exciting changes this year, and I can hardly contain my anticipation to see how they'll elevate my performance on race day.
“My goal is to surpass last year's performance, and I'm determined to make it happen."
Course, Derbyshire and Sosinski are all part of TA National Performance Centre Queensland, under Coach Dan Atkins and based in Banyoles in Spain while Dart and Ewart-McTigue are under the wily eyes of experienced Brisbane-based international coach Warwick Dalziel.
It was Gold Coaster Course who made his mark in the 2023 Oceania Triathlon Cup and Championships in Port Douglas earlier in the year - taking the Elite/Under 23 double in the one race ahead of Dart ahead of the likes of Jake Birtwhistle, Luke Willian and the strong New Zealand connection Dylan McCullough, Trent Thorpe and Tayler Reid.
Jones was fifth in the Under 23s in Port Douglas – the third Australian behind Course and Dart.
He has been based with his squad in Cardiff in Wales for the past few months, which also included a stint in Banyoles. He says it's a privilege to have been selected in the Australian team for the World Championships.
“Racing amongst the best athletes in the World is an exciting thought and I'm looking forward to showcasing the many hours of hard work I have put towards this sport,” said Jones.
“Making my debut at a World Championships has been a major goal of mine for the past few years, and to have achieved it in my last year as an Under 23 motivates me to continue climbing the elite ranks and to give myself a chance to represent my country again in more Championships in the future.”
2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra | Australian Under 23 Team