EYES ON RIO: Under-23 world triathlon champion Jake Birtwhistle will headline the Hamilton Island field on Saturday.
EYES ON RIO: Under-23 world triathlon champion Jake Birtwhistle will headline the Hamilton Island field on Saturday.

From Hamo to Rio

TRIATHLON: Jake Birtwhistle will use this weekend's Fujifilm Hamilton Island Triathlon as a platform to launch his assault on the Rio Olympic team.

The world under-23 triathlon champion is the favourite for Saturday's race, which he hopes will kick-start his 2016 campaign.

"My big focus for the early part of the year is selection for Rio," he said.

"I'd love to go to the world series on the Gold Coast and get an automatic spot (on the Olympic team).

"I'm not confident it will happen but I'm confident I have what it takes.

"This was my first year racing in the World Triathlon Series and I learnt a lot. I'll take that into next season."

What a year it proved to be for the run-strong Birtwhistle, who won the under-23 Triathlon World Championship in Chicago in September after overcoming a hamstring tear in the final kilometre.

Birtwhistle, 20, said he was excited about tackling the Hamilton Island event for its scenic location but wouldn't take the competition lightly, despite boasting the most decorated CV.

"I'd heard about it before and seen stuff and always wanted to do it for the location," the Launceston product said.

"All courses are different. It will be tough with all the hills but I'm pretty excited."

Birtwhistle conceded the swim was his weakest link of the three disciplines and hoped his gradual improvement would continue at Hamilton Island this weekend.

The race starts at 6.30am on Saturday, however there are plenty of opportunities to learn from the best before the start gun fires.

On Friday afternoon there will be a Swim with the Stars event, which will see Susie O'Neill, Craig Alexander and Emma Jackson share their knowledge of the sport.

Olympic Program and Qld Academy of Sport head coach Steve Moss will also be in attendance on Catseye Beach for the free clinic.

A cycle clinic hosted by Mike Clucas, a former international cyclist, VIS triathlon coach and state triathlon coach, will also take place tomorrow afternoon.

Clucas created the FulGaz app, whereby people from all around the world can ride the tri course on Hamilton Island without leaving the couch.

The session will be fun and informative, covering theory, pacing strategy, how to legally draft in a crosswind on the airfield and where to eat and drink without compromising speed. The free clinic starts 4.30pm in the Endeavour Room and includes a practical component after the video.


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