Sarah-Anne Brault

Triathletes in Australia ahead of 2015 season

Saanich's Matt Sharpe, 23, is once again looking to crack the national triathlon team

Despite enjoying a breakthrough period of consistency that he hasn’t enjoyed for almost two years, Matt Sharpe, 23, is once again looking to crack the national triathlon team.

In early December Sharpe, of Saanich, lost his Triathlon Canada team status. It’s a blow, as he is without the athletic funding necessary to train full time, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise, says Sharpe. It’s certainly not enough to keep him from chasing his dream of competing at the Olympics, as he’s well prepped for the 2015 season.

“I didn’t have much of an opportunity to perform (this year) and there were a limited number of (team spots) so the math just didn’t work, which is understandable. In the past I’ve shown success when I can train fairly consistent and I’m currently having a breakthrough period of consistency that I haven’t seen in almost two years. There are good signs.”

Sharpe does have an opportunity to receive the funding again if he can perform well in early season races in February and March, which he’s confident he can. He’s in a training group alongside 2014 Commonwealth Games triathletes Victoria-based Ellen Pennock and Sarah-Anne Brault, among others, under the guidance of coach Jamie Turner, the highly praised New Zealander that Triathlon Canada brought in last year.

“It would be foolish for me to just give up on (the sport) now … with the investments I made last year and the proximity to the Olympics,” Sharpe says. “For the time being, family will help me continue to train.”

This week, the group is leaving the warm waters of Crystal Pool for the warm air of Wollongong, Australia, where coach Turner was previously based. They’ll actually meet up with a fellow group of Turner’s athletes called the Wollongong Wizards, a designation the athletes quietly rock here in Victoria.

“Australia is something we’re excited about, meeting up with people on the same plan,” says Sharpe, who’s spent Canada’s colder months in Spain the past two seasons.

The upcoming stint Down Under will make or break not only Sharpe’s season but Pennock’s and Brault’s too, as all three are at a turning point in their careers.

Pennock, 22, and Brault, 25, have goals of their own, as both are looking to improve despite being unable to finish the Commonwealth triathlon (one third of starters didn’t) where Saanich’s Kirsten Sweetland won silver. (Sweetland is also headed to Australia in January, though she’ll be based in Noosa. She’ll continue her online coaching with Shaun Stephens, the Aussie who also coaches Team Sky, the UCI pro cycling team which boasts Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.)

Triathlon is like that. There are too many variables to worry about winning every race, though there are the obvious standouts, such as Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

For Pennock, 2015 is all about the Grand Final in Chicago, her final year in the under-23 category. The former UVic Vikes cross country runner came to Saanich from Calgary and won 2011 CIS rookie of the year. Her departure from school to focus on triathlon was going well until she broke her collar bone at the Commonwealth Games in July.

“I wasn’t recovered enough to train until October,” Pennock said. “Initially it was only two weeks until I was walking. There was too much pain, I just walked for a good five weeks.”

Pennock was hoping to race in the open elite category this year but because of the setback, she’s focused on the U23 level for now.

When she started swimming a little over two months ago, it was with a one-arm side stroke.

“It will take time to gain the strength back in the pool but I expect to be on track,” Pennock says.

For Pennock’s Fairfield roomate Brault, originally out of Quebec City, there is an expectation to compete at the 2015 Rio de Janeiro Test Event, Aug. 1- 2. It’s an Olympic qualification, but not the only chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games.

“Triathlon Canada will look at all your races, but you know the Rio Test Event is likely the Olympic race course so that’s very inviting,” Brault said. “But really, qualifying goes until 2016.”

The key thing is showing you’re capable, says Sharpe, who had hoped for more in 2014 but instead experienced a year of injuries and setbacks. It kept him from repeating his promising campaign from 2012 when, as a 21-year-old, he earned top-10 finishes in the open category of the International Triathlon Union, though he was a U23 level competitor.

“It’s consistency. You can’t drop off,” says Sharpe.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Field named for longtime Hampton Little League volunteer

‘Curt Waldner Field’ recognizes years of dedication put in by former little league dad

Saanich honours lifetime of conservation efforts

Mary Haig-Brown wins environmental award for 40 years of extensive volunteer work

Victoria teen killed by falling tree remembered as hero

Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling towards him and his friends

Wind gusts turn away cruise ships from Victoria harbour

Weather conditions make docking difficult for large ships

Slow down for maintenance on the Malahat this week

Minor touch-ups and repairs scheduled Monday through Thursday

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Most Read