Triathlon: Two reigning Olympic champions will go head to head at the Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim on Sunday.
Australia’s Mack Horton, who won gold in the 400m freestyle at Rio, and who is the defending Hamilton Island Endurance Series Ocean Swim champion, will take on his training partner, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrineri, the Rio Olympics 1500m freestyle winner.
Horton enjoyed success with his first foray to the Whitsundays last year when he conquered all comers over the alternate event course at Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island.
He was keen to return and defend his coveted title, hopeful that conditions would allow a visit to the course proper on Whitehaven Beach.
The expected southerlies should ensure the swim will go ahead as planned at Whitehaven, where the rest of the field will create enough chop to disrupt the pool swimmers’ rhythm.
Two queens of Australian sport, Sport Australia Hall of Fame members Susie O’Neill and Emma Carney, will be in attendance across the weekend.
While O’Neill has been a regular at the event, Carney will attend the triathlon and swim event for the first time after overseeing a scholarship presented by Hamilton Island to local junior star Emma Hogan.
The scholarship provided six months of coaching for Hogan under the watchful eye of Carney.
It paid off as Hogan won the Airlie Beach Triathlon earlier in the year.
Hogan is completing her Year 12 studies and her racing has been limited but Carney hopes to continue working with her beyond the race.
The triathlon, to be held on Saturday morning, also boasts a stacked field with Gold Coast Commonwealth Games athletes Jake Birtwhistle and Charlotte McShane headlining the field.
Birtwhistle, the winner of the Noosa Tri just last weekend, will be looking to make it three on the trot while McShane will have to overturn last year’s result and defeat reigning Tri and Ocean Swim champion Natalie van Coevorden.
Entries will remain open for both events and with transfers from Port of Airlie included in the Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim entry, many Whitsunday locals are expected to compete across the various distances in the swimming event.
Visit Hamilton Island’s website for more details.
Source: Whitsunday Times.