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Harrop's meaningful comeback

8 March 2007

Athens Olympic silver medallist, Loretta Harrop, has returned to competition five months after giving birth to her first child.

The goldern girl of triathlon chose to make her return at the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial (24-25 February 2007), an event that commemorates the life of her brother Luke, who was tragically killed by a car driver while training in 2002.

Harrop, 31, who swam 3km a day leading up to her son’s birth, set her sites on a meaningful comeback after her 16 month break.

“I just wanted to have a goal there after having Hayden. And Luke’s race a sprint comprising 750 metre swim, 20km cycle and 5km run on the Gold Coast) is very important to me.” Harrop said to the Australian newspaper.

The new mum proved to her rivals that her competitive edge is still alive. Harrop had an impressive early lead in the swim leg but was caught n the cycle leg by the chasing pack.

Liz Blatchford clinched victory in 59m54s ahead of Felicity Abram (1:00:02), Michelle Dillon (1:00:12) and Harrop (1:00:53).

“It was great to see so many people do the race in memory of Luke,” Harrop said. “I used to have a training plan”, expressed Harrop. “Now it’s all different. I was up until 2am (with son Hayden) and I started to think I’ve got to race today, I better pack my bag."

Even though she is still undecided if she will embark on her third Olympic campaign, Harrop will race the World Cup event in Mooloolaba on the 25th March.

Former world champion, Peter Robertson, also recently returned to racing at a national series race in Melbourne after a four-month holiday overseas.

“It was a total beak which was exactly what I needed. I’ve come back refreshed and hungry and ready to attack the next 18months, including Beijing,” Robertson said.

Triathlon’s Australian Sprint Championships for the Elites and International Triathlon Union (ITU) Juniors were recently held in Hobart on 18 February 2007.

Local star and Sydney Olympian, Craig Walton, clinched victory in 57m10s by narrowly beating Queensland’s Courtney Atkinson (57m23s) and 2006 race winner Brad Kahlefeldt (57m39s).

‘I’d love to go to another Olympics, my health has stopped me in the last few years from even trying to race (Walton suffered from glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome 4 years ago) but I think I’ve got that right now, so maybe I’ve still got some chance of going to Beijing,” said Walton.

In-form Erin Densham, 21, who is the current under-23 world champion, overtook Queensland’s Annabel Luxford in the final run leg to win the women’s sprint crown.

Densham, who also won in Perth, moved to Melbourne from Sydney four months ago to train under VIS coach Jonathan Hall. Due to her recent success in the open ranks, the world champ has decided to quit her job and focus on triathlon full-time.

“The Beijing Olympics weren’t a thought before now…but because I’ve started winning a lot of people have been asking me about it,” said Densham.

“It all just happened so fast, it’s hard to believe,” she said.

A mystery virus that prevented Emma Snowsill, 25, from competing in the sprint championships didn’t stop her from gaining the limelight.

Snowsill was awarded ‘Best 2006 Female Performance’ by Triathlon Australia for her third world championship win and for her gold medal performance at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

A few days later Snowsill also received the Dawn Fraser Award at the Australian Sport Awards for her stellar 2006 season.

However Snowsill’s glory was short lived when she was unable race at the Australian & ITU Olympic Distance Championships on 4 March in Geelong, Victoria.

The three time world champion was still recovering from illness. Her partner Craig Walton joined her as an absentee; he was not race-fit over the Olympic distance after an off-season break.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Brad Kahlefeldt defended his title by out-sprinting Courtney Atkinson. Bevan Docherty of New Zealand, the silver medallist from the Athens Olympics, finished third.

In the women’s race, Densham over came a two minute deficit in the final run leg to claim the national title ahead of Queensland’s Annabel Luxford and New Zealander Debbie Tanner.

This was an extraordinary performance by Densham, who has now won her second national title in three weeks.

Sarah-Lucy Rice

Return to Beijing Bound

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