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They’ve sacrificed sleep for long hours in the pool and on the road, dealt with nagging injuries, and traveled the nation to put their skills to the test in races against the best in the country.
Now, a select group of the amateur triathletes from the United States will don the Red, White and Blue of their country to take on the world at the 2009 ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.
Upwards of 2,000 of the world’s best amateur triathletes will be racing in the week of events Down Under. A few hundred more will battling for elite, U23 and junior world titles in separate races.
The team of more than 350 U.S. athletes will participate in championships in age groups for Olympic distance triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run), aquathlon (2.5k run, 1k swim, 2.5k run), and sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run).
Thirty-nine athletes from the U.S. will compete in more than one event, with nine athletes racing in all three championships.
The Aquathlon World Championship kicks off the week of racing on Wednesday, September 9, with 70 U.S. athletes competing. Athletes will look to top last year’s haul of 27 medals. Eight medalists (4 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze) return from the 2008 championship, which was held in Monterrey, Mexico.
The amateurs return to action on Saturday, September 12 for the Olympic distance race. Among the 220 U.S. competitors are 15 racing in a variety of paratriathlon categories. Included in that list is five-time world champion Paul Martin and returning champions Matt Perkins, JP Theberge and Sarah Reinertsen.
U.S. athletes took home 30 medals (9 gold, 10 silver, 11 bronze) in Vancouver in 2008, and six of those are back and looking to return to the podium in Australia. A seventh medalist from 2008, Jessica Broderick, has moved out of the age group ranks and will compete in the Junior Championship on Sunday.
Close to 130 U.S. athletes will take to the course on Sunday, September 13 for the Sprint Championship. While U.S. juniors raced in the past two ITU Sprint Championships, this is the first year Team USA will field a full group of competitors across all age groups. Last year’s overall sprint champion, 18-year-old Ben Kanute, will compete in Sunday’s Junior Championship.
A highlight of the Worlds’ experience is the chance for the athletes to participate in the traditional Parade of Nations. This Olympic-style opening ceremony on Thursday night brings together thousands of athletes from countries around the world to celebrate national pride and the unity of sport.
Here are some of the athletes to watch in the Olympic distance championship:
Returning Medalists from 2008
Molly Hayes (Bozeman, Mont.) Female 75-79 age group
JP Theberge (Carlsbad, Calif.) Above Knee Paratriathlon
Matt Perkins (Boise, Idaho) Below Knee Paratriathlon
Sarah Reinertsen (Mission Viejo, Calif.) Above Knee Paratriathlon
Joseph Welsh (Cordova, Tenn.) Male 18-19 age group
Steve Pyle (Boulder, Colo.) Male 50-54 age group
Mark Harms (Madison, Wis.) Male 30-34 age group
Amy Dodson (Tucson, Ariz.) Below Knee Paratriathlon
Lauren Binder (Portland, Ore.) Female 60-64 age group
Sheila Isaacs (Shoreham, N.Y.) Female 70-74 age group
Others to Watch
Dean Harper (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Male 55-59 age group
Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.) Female 50-54 age group
JJ Bailey (Des Moines, Iowa) Male 35-39 age group
Susan Bradley-Cox (Lexington, Ky.) Female 70-74 age group
Paul Brinkmann (Flagstaff, Ariz.) Male 50-54 age group
Roger Brockenbrough (Pittsburgh, Pa.) Male 75-79 age group
Madonna Buder (Spokane, Wash.) Female 75-79 age group
Doug Clark (Morristown, N.J.) Male 40-44 age group
Claire McCarty (Malibu, Calif.) Female 50-54 age group
Kim McDonald (Del Mar, Calif.) Male 50-54 age group
Cara Payne (Seattle, Wash.) Female 25-29 age group
Robert Plant (Woodside, Calif.) Male 65-69 age group
Steph Popelar (Parker, Colo.) Female 40-44 age group
David Roadhouse (Wilmette, Ill.) Male 65-69 age group
Jeannette Shelow-MacDougall (South Nyack, N.Y.) Female 45-49 age group
John Sillery (York, Pa.) Male 35-39 age group
Kyle Welch (Sunnyvale, Calif.) Male 45-49 age group
Aaron Scheidies, paratriathlon
Paul Martin, paratriathlon
Provided by USA Triathlon.