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Triathlon: Much needed wins ahead of London
Roger Vaughan
16:03 AEST Tue Jul 26 2011

Australian triathlon's Olympic program badly needed its big weekend in Hamburg.

On July 16-17, Australia posted the sorts of results that have historically been its habit in the sport.

Brad Kahlefeldt won round four of the world championship series as the three Emmas - reigning world champion Moffatt, rising star Jackson and Beijing Olympics gold medallist Snowsill - swept the women's podium in that order.

But it was also the first time this season that any Australians had reached the podium in the series.

The opening two races scared the hell out of the program.

Apart from Brendan Sexton's breakthrough fourth place in Sydney, no-one made the top 10.

"If you're going to get kicked in the guts, I guess 15 months out is the right time," said national performance director Mike Flynn.

"It was a massive wake-up call."

The woeful start to the series prompted a reassessment within the national program.

"Training form, to be honest, is right on target - it just hasn't converted this year to results," head coach Shaun Stephens said before Hamburg.

While top 10 results for Kahlefeldt and Moffatt at round three in Austria showed their form was turning around, Hamburg was the shot in the arm everyone needed.

But British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Canadian Paula Findlay - the most in-form competitors right now - did not race in Hamburg.

Hamburg's big results also should not gloss over some significant concerns about the Australians.

Snowsill has scored some big wins since Beijing, but there have also been illnesses, injuries and a relationship breakup.

While Moffatt, the Beijing Games bronze medallist, has won the last two world championship series, she did not win a big race last year.

After Beijing Olympians Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson and now Sexton, there is still too big a drop-off in the depth of talent among the men.

Chris McCormack has switched from his hugely-successful Ironman triathlon career to make a short-course comeback, but he is 38.

Stephens remains upbeat about what is possible.

"With a year to go, I'm still optimistic that the women will still be dominating and our men will be up there mixing it with the best," he said.

"We are still, on history, the No.1 triathlon nation ... we have to maintain those standards."

The next world championship series round in London early next month will give a clearer picture.

If an Australian wins the London round and finishes in the top three of the world championship series this year, that is an automatic Olympic selection.

The Brownlees and Findlay will lead a super-strong field there.

While Stephens is upbeat, he also notes that Australia could not stay top forever.

Athletes such as the Brownlees and Findlay are changing the game.

"We still say, our goal is to come back with six Olympic medals," Stephens said.

"But in reality ... each year, the game is getting harder and harder."


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