Kingscliff’s Gold Coast-based Brandon Copeland has vowed to leave “nothing in the tank” when he makes his World Triathlon Championship Finals debut with the Australian team when the world’s best triathletes converge on Hawrelak Park in Edmonton on Saturday.
The 25-year-old who is thriving on the Australian team culture will line up alongside Tokyo Olympians Jake Birtwhistle and Aaron Royle in the Elite Men’s race and Series Final while training partner and Tokyo debutant Matt Hauser will join NSW’s Luke Schofield in the Under 23 World Championship.
After arriving in Edmonton, the Australians are now out of strict lockdown and permitted to train in their cohort as coaches and staff prepare the 11-strong Aussie team for Saturday’s racing schedule.
“I’m extremely excited and honoured to get the opportunity to race for my country in the WTCS grand final,” Copeland told Triathlon Australia today as he put the finishing touches to his preparation.
“It’s something I have been working towards for a long time so for Triathlon Australia to select me for this race is a huge honour.
“Edmonton is the highest level race I’ve competed in to date so I will relish the opportunity to test myself against the best athletes in the world.”
Copeland will rub shoulders with the likes of Norway’s Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt and silver and bronze medallists Alex Lee from Great Britain and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde – the stars of Tokyo just two weeks ago.
An opportunity that is not lost on the 25-year-old who admits his return to the World Championship Series in Montreal last weekend was a major step back to the international triathlon scene.
“Montreal was a great experience and it was awesome to be back racing on the world stage and good to get an idea of the level of competition ahead of the grand final this weekend in Edmonton,” said Copeland.
“There’s a great culture amongst the Aussies over here, and it’s great to have the support of everyone, especially our Gold Coast Performance Centre squad of Matt Hauser, Jaz and Kira Hedgeland and myself.
“It was good to see everyone get a good solid hit out done last weekend and I’m excited to watch my team mates as much as I am to race myself this weekend!”
Copeland finished 19th in the Super Sprint Eliminator Format which saw Birtwhistle finish 7th – the only Australian in the final top 10 after two days of helter-skelter racing.
And he says he is now looking forward to getting back to his “bread and butter”, Olympic (Standard) distance racing after the short and hectic format in Montreal.
“For me this race is about doing the little things right - nailing the nutrition and transitions will help set me up for a good race,” said Copeland, whose coach Dan Atkins will be sitting in the Paralympic Village in Tokyo anxiously watching all of his GCPC team in action.
“I will be happy if I cross the line knowing I have given my best effort across all three disciplines and have nothing left in the tank.”
His training partner Kira Hedgeland will be the first of the Australians to race on Saturday in her final appearance in the Under 23s, followed by the Women’s and Men’s Elites with the Under 23 Men’s world title race the final event on an action packed program.
The Edmonton Schedule looks like this:
Saturday, August 21:
Under 23 Women’s World Championship: Midnight (AEST)
Close Up: Out of the top five from the last U23 Women’s World Championship back at Lausanne 2019, only the winner Emilie Morier (FRA) has moved up to the elite category, while the remaining four, Australia’s Kira Hedgeland, British pair Olivia Mathias and Kate Waugh and Germany’s Lisa Tersch will again be on Saturday morning’s start line in a bid to step up and land the precious world crown. While New Zealand’s Tokyo Olympian and number one ranked Ainsley Thorpe will be hoping to finish her bittersweet season, that started at the Tokyo Olympics with a DNF in her individual race and a 12th place in the Mixed relay, before going on to earn a silver medal in the Montreal Mixed Relay race last Sunday.
Sunday, August 22:
Elite Women’s WTCS Final: 2:50am (AEST)
Close Up: A great opportunity for leading Australians on the WTSC point score, led by Natalie Van Coevorden, who is the highest placed of the Aussies in 21st, Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland, London Olympian Emma Jackson, Charlotte McShane and Finals debutant Kelly-Ann Perkins to improve their Series rankings. It will be a field led by Olympic champion and WTCS leader Flora Duffy (Bermuda) and the USA’s Tokyo bronze medallist Katie Zaferes and her US team mate Taylor Knibb, sitting second behind Duffy and marginally ahead of the Netherlands Maya Kingma, 11th in Tokyo and the USA’s Taylor Spivey.
Sunday, August 22:
Elite Men’s WTCS Final: 5:50am (AEST)
Close Up: The Elite Men’s race will see almost a complete re-match from Tokyo with Norwegian Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt (sitting second on 2677) points behind Tokyo silver medallist, and rankings leader GBR’s Alex Yee (2716) with bronze medallist, Kiwi Hayden Wilde (fourth on 2265), just behind Belgian’s Marten Van Riel (2438). Australia’s top Tokyo finisher Jake Birtwhistle, who was 16th, is also the leading Australian on the WTCS in 15th followed by Rio and Tokyo Olympian Aaron Royle and Brandon Copeland with the Aussie boys hoping their legs can hold on over the final 10km of the season.
Sunday, August 22:
Under 23 Men’s World Championship: 8:30am (AEST)
Close Up: Australia’s own Matt Hauser, the Junior World Champion in 2017, World and Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay Champion and Tokyo Olympian is the number one ranked seed in this classy field that includes Hungary’s whiz kid Csongor Lehmann, the USA’s speed machine Chase McQueen and Kiwi duo Dylan McCullough and Saxon Morgan. Hauser will be joined by NSW’s Luke Schofield who has produced a consistent Australian domestic season, returning to the Australian Team after making his debut in the Junior ranks at the World Championships on the Gold Coast in 2018.