Overcoming two gut-wrenching 2014 failures, Aaron Royle believes his emotional Noosa Triathlon title defence has set the platform for a breakthrough 2015.
Royle claimed back-to-back crowns at Australia’s biggest triathlon event with a thrilling sprint finish on Sunday morning – edging out Commonwealth Games teammates Dan Wilson and Ryan Bailie.
The 24-year-old jubilantly confirmed his status as the nation’s best talent across the Olympic distance (1.5km, 40km, 10km) on punching the air several times as he crossed in one hour 47 minutes 56 seconds.
“I showed a bit of emotion over the line,” Royle said.
“Winning it the first time is pretty hard and winning again is definitely harder.
“And winning in a sprint finish lifts the emotions pretty high.”
Royle’s victory followed on from his success at last weekend’s Nepean Triathlon and the Wollongong Wizards’ star was quick to assert the morale-boosting wins had him well placed before a well-earned rest.
This season was supposed to deliver far more for the Newcastle product but he was left distraught after his two biggest races, finishing 30th at the London stop of the World Triathlon Series and then eighth at the Glasgow Games.
“They weren’t what I was expecting but to go back to back in Nepean and Noosa now it gives me a lot of confidence and momentum going into next year,” he said. “2015 is qualifying for Rio (Olympics) so it’s going to be a big year.”
Early WTS races at Auckland (March 29) and Gold Coast (April 12) will play into Royle’s hands against the leading European and Americans.
Emerging from the bike with Wollongong training partner Bailie, Wilson and Peter Kerr, Royle’s pack chased down and passed Casey Munro and Ben Shaw within 3km of the run.
Kerr dropped off in the final 2km as they started the surge and it was Royle who responded best when Bailie kicked with 250m to the line and outpaced Wilson.
“I can’t actually remember much of the last couple of minutes, it was a bit of a blur,” Royle said.
“Every time I’ve been in a sprint finish it’s the last 100m that hurts the least because of the adrenaline.”
Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle also claimed her second Noosa title by dominating the run in the women’s event at the country’s biggest multi-sport festival.
The weekend attracted more than 12,000 competitors including a host of cross-code sports stars and weekend warriors of all ages, right up to 82-year-old Markus Hanley who completed his 24th Noosa race.
Susie O’Neill finished fourth in her age category (2:27.01) while Libby Trickett, Matthew Hayden, Jamie Whincup, Ben Hannant, Mat Rogers and Geelong skipper Joel Selwood – cycling in a three-man Cats team – were also fan favourites.