Tokyo Olympian Matt Hauser will take the same fight to the line in this Sunday’s World Triathlon Championship Series race in Montreal that won Australia the Ashes Test opener against England.
Chasing 281, the Australians reached the target inside the final hour, with skipper Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon combining for an unbeaten 55-run partnership for the ninth wicket to steer Australia to a miracle victory and giving the visitors a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
The 25-year-old says he constantly looks to his fellow international sport stars for inspiration and what makes them the best in the world.
“What our boys did at Edgbaston was just incredible,” said Hauser, who was in Birmingham almost 12 months ago himself as he charged to two bronze medals in the green and gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Reflecting on Australia’s second-innings batting performance, Hauser said it wasn’t just the next man up attitude that impressed him.
“It was having the mindset to get through both ‘I can do this’ but more so ‘I must do this to win’ attitude," said Hauser, who will now set himself in the chase for automatic 2024 Olympic nomination at the Paris Test Event on August 17 and 18.
“That’s so courageous, against the odds and (all) the pressure. Especially from skipper Pat Cummings - something to reflect on for sure.”
Hauser, who is sitting in 10th on the WTCS rankings and ninth on the Olympic rankings, is coming off his own inspirational performance which saw him finish with a last gasp silver medal in his previous WTCS race in Yokohama – a best career performance.
Seemingly out of contention, he produced a grandstand finish, digging deeper than ever to surge over the top of Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca in the shadows of the finish line to grab second place behind New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medallist Hayden Wilde.
An even more impressive performance given Hauser missed a month’s training due to an energy-sapping virus.
The longer the Yokohama race unfolded throughout the final 10km run on a slippery roadway, the more confident Hauser became as the front runners jostled for positions behind runaway leader and eventual winner, Wilde.
“Although my preparation has been a lot smoother leading into this weekend I’m still going in with the same attitude: no expectations - just go in with good intent and fight to stay in the hunt,” said Hauser.
“It’s evident a few of the major players are really homing in on Paris (the Test Event) and Pontevedra (World Championships) but for me racing is part of my preparation process.
“Yokohama was super pleasing, being able to get the most out of my body with less-than-ideal training and conditioning gives me confidence moving forward.
“I picked up a little illness coming back and by the time the Port Douglas Oceania Cup race rolled around I just wasn’t 100 percent right. But I was excited to get back to training and prepare for Montreal.”
Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Alex Yee (GBR) and bronze medallist Wilde (NZL) along with the powerhouse French duo Leo Bergere and Dorian Coninx won’t race, choosing to skip this event to prepare for the upcoming World Championships in Hamburg and the Paris Test Event.
But the field in Montreal is still filled with super talent, and some of the fastest athletes will be ready to seize the opportunity to grab some valuable points both for the Series rankings and for the Olympic qualification rankings.
It will be headlined by Tokyo Olympic and World Champion Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) who will be joined by Jelle Geens (BEL), four-time Olympic medallist Johnny Brownlee (GBR), Manoel Messias (BRA) and Lawad Abdelmoula (MAR) who have all had a WTCS podiums under their belts.
Hauser will be joined by fellow Australians, Jake Birtwhistle, Luke Willian, Brandon Copeland and Callum McClusky, all looking to put themselves in game early and to stay as long as they can.
Triathlon Australian Gold Coast Performance Centre Head Coach, Dan Atkins, knows that Montreal is a race Hauser is familiar with.
“We have planned to come here off the long-haul travel from Brisbane for a good result,” said Atkins.
“Consistency is obviously the plan and post his Yokohama result I am sure Matt has some great confidence going into this race. “As long as he gets in the race from the start, I am looking for a strong swim-bike-run performance.
“Yokohama proved his swim bike is going well so I would like to see him build on this, then as we all know his back-end run will hopefully take care of itself.”
The women’s race will feature Australia’s highest WTCS ranked athletes in Natalie van Coevorden and Jaz Hedgeland who will be joined by Kira Hedgeland, Birmingham Mixed Relay bronze medallist Sophie Linn and London Olympian Emma Jackson.
They will all be vying for places in Australia’s team for Monday’s Mixed Relay event with the four-strong team to be named after Saturday’s individual races.
Hauser, Birtwhistle, Van Coevorden and Linn all have strong credentials as the quartet team that won bronze at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Hauser and Birtwhistle have also been in Australian teams that have won both World Championships and Commonwealth Games gold (with Ash Gentle and Gillian Backhouse) in 2018.
Discussions are to be held post-race before the selectors make the team selection based on who is available to race. Once the team has been selected around the individuals that raced on Sunday, the selectors will then decide the team order.
Natalie Van Coevorden
WTCS MONTREAL – MIXED RELAY
Monday 25 June, 12:06 AM AEST