Fresh from her gut-wrenching victory to clinch the Super League Arena Games World Championship in London, Australia’s Sophie Linn will revert to the traditional triathlon arena with an enormous confidence boost when she lines up in the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) in Yokohama on Saturday.
The Colorado-based Commonwealth Games relay bronze-medallist will have fellow Birmingham team member Natalie Van Coevorden for company on the start-line, while Jaz Hedgeland and Kira Hedgeland round out strong Aussie contingent in the women’s field.
“I’ve been back home in Boulder since the London Arena Games last month, just putting in the work and enjoying Boulder as it warms up!” said Linn, who had emerged in 2022 with an eye-catching fifth in the individual race at the Commonwealth Games.
“Yokohama will be my first WTCS for the year and my first time racing Yokohama - so I’m going into it with an open mind and looking for a solid showing over all three legs.
“After this weekend I'll head back home to Boulder - before looking towards Montreal WTCS in June!”
The Arena Games experience was a whole new ball game, Linn saying she had never hurt as much in any triathlon as she did in London, with coach Danielle Stefano admitting that missing the cut for the WTCS in Abu Dhabi may well have been a blessing in disguise.
“The Arena Games was great for Sophie - it was our backup plan when she wasn’t selected for Abu Dhabi earlier this year but worked out to probably be a better option for her,” said Stefano.
“She has been great, going from strength to strength as she continues to learn her craft after spending some time in Melbourne (with our group) earlier this year and now back in Boulder.
“After Montreal, Sophie will spend some time again in Europe with our squad around the European WTCS races, the Paris Test event and the World Championships.”
Yokohama will be the second of eight stops on this year’s tour, including the Paris Test Event, that will ultimately decide our 2023 World Champions in Pontevedra at the end of September. There will be 1,000 points on the line in Japan and then again in Cagliari, Italy, in two weeks time.
With defending World and Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Flora Duffy still absent with injury, WTCS Yokohama will be wide open as the athletes take the chance to find some quick-fire race consistency for the first time this year.
Emerging youngster Kira Hedgeland, 10th in the New Plymouth World Cup in March after her second place to New Zealand’s in-form Nicole Van Der Kaay in the Oceania Triathlon Cup in Devonport, has been in Yokohama since the start of the week.
“I started my season in Abu Dhabi which unfortunately did not go to plan. But I was able to turn this around in Devonport and New Plymouth where I was able to put down some performances that I was more proud of,” said Hedgeland.
“My biggest expectation is to see some progression from my last races and enjoy being out there competing.
“Post this race I am heading straight to Cagliari for a short camp with my squad before the next WTCS race and then we are off to Font Romeu for the first altitude camp of the year leading into Montreal.
“The big goals are to race the Paris Test Event and my first Elite Worlds.”
Catch all the action live on TriathlonLive.tv starting at 10:46 AM AEST for the women's race and 1:36 PM AEST for the men's race.