Australia's rich history in the sport makes representing the country a daunting task. TriathlonWorld.com speaks with Ashleigh Gentle about her prep for the big race on Saturday.
August 15, 2016 | NEWS|
How’d you like to be pulling on the Australian colors in Rio on Saturday? Australia has always had a medalist in the women’s triathlon at the games. Australian women have won a total of 13 ITU world championships, too – an incredible record of excellence.
Ashleigh Gentle seems to be more than up for the task of representing her country in style later this week. Both she and 2012 bronze medalist Erin Densham (the third member of the team is Emma Moffatt) were at last weekend’s Montreal World Cup. While Densham DNF’d, Gentle managed to run her way to a silver-medal behind Flora Duffy.
Australian women's Olympic top-10 finishes
Michellie Jones Silver
Lorretta Harrop Silver
Emma Snowsill Gold
Erin Densham Bronze
Loretta Harrop 5th
Emma Moffatt Bronze
Emma Jackson 8th
Nicole Hackett 9th
“I came into this race and I told myself that regardless of whether it’s good, bad, or in between, I have to focus on the processes and do the little things right,” she said after the race. “Getting my body ready to race again was really important for me, so I’m really glad I did this race and it turned out all right.”
Gentle ran her way from the chase group up to the podium – the only woman in the field who was able to do so after 18-year-old Taylor Knibb got to ride the “Duffy train” for three laps of the bike and was able to hang on for the bronze in Montreal. Gentle wasn’t only pleased with her run, though.
“I was pretty happy with my swim, too,” she said. “That’s something I’ve been really working on. Just being able to mentally handle myself well leading into the race and not getting too worked up about the swim – that was really great. My legs felt a bit off at some points during the race, but I’m really happy with how I felt getting off the bike. I’ll take that as confidence booster heading into Rio.”
Confidence will help heading into the pressure cooker that will be the women’s triathlon on Saturday. Gentle seems to have a great perspective on what it’s like to be on the Australian team with it’s rich history.
“Australia has an incredible triathlon history. The women have medalled at every Olympics that we’ve been in. You get reminded of that all the time. The athletes before me have been such incredible people and great athletes to inspire to be like. That adds a little bit of pressure sometimes, but you just have to respect the past and focus on yourself and do as best you can for yourself and your country.
“It might be a bit of added pressure, but it’s great to be in a country that has always had really strong women in triathlon because it pushes us to try to be like them.”