It was a true State of Origin battle at the Australian Elite Mixed Relay Championships in Devonport this morning, with New South Wales triumphing over their Queensland rivals for the National title.
Putting together a fast and coordinated relay, the New South Wales team of Gillian Backhouse, Josh Ferris, Emma Jeffcoat and Brandon Copeland played to their strengths as they secured themselves a definitive victory over competitive Queensland and Western Australian teams.
Speaking on their win, Copeland said that he was really pleased with today’s result.
“Full credit to these guys, they put me in a great position and I was able to finish it off,” Copeland said.
“It was lucky, these guys all did awesome and gave me a good lead. I just had to be smart and not stack it on the bike or something and we were pretty well guaranteed to come away with it in the end.”
While Under 23 debutant Josh Ferris relished the opportunity to compete and support some of his senior counterparts.
“It’s an awesome experience for someone like me, just coming into Under 23 racing and getting exposed to the Elite racing,” Ferris said.
“These guys were great and they welcomed me with open arms, so it was really good racing with them today.”
New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia played off in a game of cat and mouse for the first two legs of the relay. Kelly-Ann Perkins was a standout for Queensland in the first leg of the relay, finding breathing room late on the run to tag teammate Matt Roberts into the lead.
Ferris (NSW) and Luke Schofield (Joint NSW/QLD) were hot on his heels, with the pair running down Roberts to put their teammates at the front of the race heading into the 3rd change.
Emma Jeffcoat capitalised Ferris' hard work to breakaway from Queensland’s Emma Hogan and New South Wales’ Caitlin Sendt to place NSW firmly at the front of the race. While Jaz Hedgeland brought the Western Australian team back into contention for the title with a stellar bike leg that saw her launch her team in third position behind Hogan and Jeffcoat.
With Jeffcoat handing off to Copeland in a well-established lead, the Kingscliff triathlete just needed to keep his calm and execute a smart and clean race. Matt Hauser (QLD) and Luke Bate (WA) dug deep to close the gap as much as possible, but Copeland kept his cool under pressure to get the New South Wales team over the line for the win. Hauser brought the Queensland team home strong for second, with Luke Bate and the Western Australian team taking third.
Queensland took a clean sweep of the Australian Junior Mixed Relay Championships, with Kelsey Mitchell, Brad Course, Bridget McCormack and Jordan Rieck narrowly defeating their fellow Queensland teammates for line honours.
Chloe Bateup got the ACT team off to a roaring start, putting together a solid swim, bike and run to place her team right in front at the first change.
Queensland’s Brad Course refused to back down from the challenge as he put together a dominating performance on the bike, handing over to Bridget McCormack with a hefty lead. It turned out to be a lead that the Queensland team would never surrender with McCormack and Jordan Rieck keeping their foot on the gas right through the third and fourth legs to bring home the title for Queensland.
Queenslanders Georgie Fredericks, Harry King, Briana Mow and Jack Crome gave their all, finishing just 17 seconds behind the leaders to take out second, with a joint Queensland/South Australian team of Paige Cranage, Thomas Feldman, Ella Wooldridge and Payton Craig rounding out the junior podium.
Australian Elite Mixed Relay Championships
1st – Team NSW
2nd – Team QLD 1
3rd – Team WA
Australian Junior Mixed Relay Championships
1st – Team QLD 1
2nd – Team QLD 2
3rd – Team QLD/SA