We take a look at how our Australian triathletes fared in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Read on for the women and men's race overviews by Noel McMahon.
After solid performances on the WTS circuit, the Aussie men arrived in Rio with high hopes, and a podium finish wasn’t out of the question if everything went to plan. Olympic debutants Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie had very different races but both managed top 10 finishes after a tough day. Up front and perfectly positioned into T2, Royle lost contact with the leaders early on the run and had to tough it out over 10 gruelling kilometres, eventually securing ninth.
“I said if I finished the race knowing that I gave it everything, I’d have to be proud of that effort. But it would have been nice to have a better run leg,” he said.
“For me it was the back end of the bike and the start of the run where it really started to hurt. I’ve got a little bit of mixed emotions right now but at the end of the day, I’m going to be proud with that effort.”
In contrast, Bailie and Ryan Fisher missed the front pack out of the water and were chasing all day. Bailie rounded out the top 10 with a solid run while Fisher battled the remnants of a head cold to finish 24th. With a taste for the Olympics and with time on their side, all three have committed to another four years for Tokyo 2020.
Australian female triathletes have medalled at every Olympic Games since the event was included on the program in 2000, but that run has been halted in Rio with Olympic bronze medallists Erin Densham (2012) and Emma Moffatt (2008) finishing sixth and 12th respectively in their Olympic swansongs. In Rio, Moffatt and Densham put themselves in the game from the outset, both exiting the water after the 1500-metre swim in the firing line – ensuring they were in the front group for the brutal 40-kilometre bike course.
“I’m really happy with coming away with sixth. I knew it was going to be a hard race but I didn’t really expect to go that well – there’s a lot of quality athletes on the start line, so yeah, I’m really happy with how I went,” Moffatt said.
“I think there [was] a few demons with me still from London, where I crashed on the bike, so I was very relieved to get off the bike and onto the run with no bruises or blood.”
Densham, who has had a tough four years since London with illness and injury, was happy with her result.
“The last four years haven’t been great. But leading in I did everything I could, absolutely everything I could and I laid it all out there. I’m so happy with how it went. To finish my third Olympics the way I did, I couldn’t be prouder,” she said.
Ashleigh Gentle didn’t have the race she was hoping for, finishing 26th. Trailing out of the swim and missing the lead pack, she was left to drive the chase pack to try and keep in touch.
“It wasn’t the result I was after but I have to be honoured to be part of this Olympic team and to have such teammates like Moffy and Erin to share this experience and to learn so much from them,” she said.
“I knew what I had to do coming in and I worked hard on the swim but it didn’t work out, but I’ve got four years to put it all together for Tokyo and I will take this experience with me for the ride.”
ICYMI - check out all the snaps from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games here.
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