A lot has transpired since Matt Hauser struggled to the finish line 12 months ago in Abu Dhabi – a victim of a sudden stomach virus two days before the WTCS race completed a year like no other.
Hauser finished back in 42nd place, some four minutes behind the winner Jelle Geens of Belgium and ahead of only seven other competitors of the 49 finishers from the original 56 starters.
As Hauser and QLD Performance Centre Head Coach Dan Atkins arrived into Abu Dhabi this week, the 2021 Olympian and Under 23 Worlds bronze medallist, reflected on that forgettable moment and the best 12 months of his career that has followed.
“Hopefully I won't have a stomach bug this time; I was pretty sick two days before that race and I’m certainly looking to improve on that 42nd place here last year that’s for sure,” Hauser quipped.
“It probably just summed up 2021 as a whole, where there were some disappointing results tied in with my bronze at the Under 23 Worlds (and Olympic debut).
“But this year I have made all my hard work in the off-season come to fruition.... with some good results...and I’m really looking forward to continuing on that momentum this time round in my first ever WTCS Grand Final as an Elite.
“It’s been a long year, but it’s been a good year and I'm really looking forward to Abu Dhabi and keeping the good form going and wrap it up on a good note....
“It’s been warm on the Gold Coast where I live and train – so it’s been the perfect prep for Abu Dhabi.
“I’m really looking forward to giving it one last crack for this year, but it will be no doubt rewarding when the year comes to an end which I’m super stoked for and hopefully I can step it up for Triathlon Australia (TA).”
Hauser, who is 10th and the best placed of the Australians on the WTCS Rankings will be joined on Saturday’s start line (3:06pm local time/9.06pm AEST) by fellow Commonwealth Games representatives, Olympian Jake Birtwhistle (38th), Brandon Copeland (31st) and Luke Willian (50th).
At 24, Hauser continues his journey as part of World Triathlon’s next generation of stars. Having moved from Hervey Bay, north of Brisbane to join coach Dan Atkins on the Gold Coast at the start of 2016 – and it’s been a successful combination over the past six years.
“We keep things light-hearted and enjoy everything the Gold Coast has to offer but we also knuckle down and get the work done.
“It’s just a good culture that we’ve got going on the Gold Coast and hopefully it continues to work for me for many years to come – I’m a firm believer that if it ain’t broke why fix it!”
Atkins said Hauser was quick to move on from the disappointment of 2021 Abu Dhabi - honing in on becoming the most complete triathlete he could become across all of his distances – from Olympic Distance to Sprint and Super Sprint.
“The first three months we had after coming back from Abu Dhabi was easily his best block (of training) and the most focused I’ve ever seen Matt,” said Atkins.
“That carried through to the first WTCS race of 2022 in Yokohama (where he was fourth) which was such a great platform for his overseas campaign.
“It was easily his biggest time away for his biggest block of racing... he just loves to race and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
“Hopefully he can do his thing (in Abu Dhabi) and stay out of trouble for as long as possible; he showed in the Super League final in Saudi Arabia with the three non-stop races he actually can race ok in the heat.
“Matt got stronger the longer the race went on and he has been carrying on that mantra in training on the Gold Coast for the last three weeks.
For a full guide to the Abu Dhabi World Championships; including team lists across Para, Elites, U23 and Age Group, racing schedules and how to watch, visit triathlon.org.au >>