For the first time in 17 years, Montreal returned back to the ITU family to host its first-ever World Cup event. While the elite action does not get underway under this Sunday, a few Rio bound athletes took the time to speak with the local media. Brazil’s Diogo Sclebin, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle had a few words before they line up to compete this weekend.
Talk about what the athletes can expect racing in Rio?
“Rio is very well prepared to host the Games. I spoke with my brother today and he said there are a lot of people at Copacabana Beach and it is really nice and colorful. So I want to invite you to go to Rio if it is possible because I think the Olympic Games in Rio will be a very good Games.”
A lot of your family and friends will be there watching you race in Rio, does that add any extra pressure or does that benefit you?
“I regularly compete around the world and never did I think that a lot of Brazilians would be able to watch me. Two million people will be watching the triathlon. Copacabana is the place where I competed in my first triathlon back in 2000, a long time ago and it will be very important for me to race in my city, in front of my family and in front of everybody with the Brazilian flag. I am very nervous, but also very happy for that.”
Your country has a history of having a lot of winter sports, did you have a background in winter sports as well?
“I did not grow up really doing winter sports. I live in a city where there is a lot of rain instead of being good conditions for winter sports.”
You have been training for high altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona. How has that been helping your performance?
“It is very similar to the preparation that we did this spring before Yokohama and the Cagliari World Cup. I have been training for weeks and I am just waiting for my body to respond at seas level.”
The course is very fast and technical, does that excite you?
“I think usually the athletes can make the course harder by working hard if they are willing to, so it is good to get help from a good course as well as that. I am looking forward to go full gas on Sunday.”
Montreal hosted the 1999 World Championships where Australia dominated, talk a little about that.
“My coach and I were talking about this a couple of days ago as he is from Montreal, so he did remind me that the Australian women did go 1,2,3,4,5 in the Montreal World Championships, so we do have a great history here. So when you put the race suit on you are not just racing for yourself, you are also racing for your country and that little bit of Australian history here in Montreal was very special and I think that is always something us athletes think about before we race.”
Your coach Cliff English is from Montreal, talk about having his family come support you this Sunday.
“Obviously he feels good to be back in his home country and his hometown. And Canada has always been a great place for me, I went to my second Junior World Championships in Vancouver, had a great time in Edmonton and have just always had a great time coming up to Canada. So when I saw this for a World Cup and as a sprint race and two weeks out from Rio, it was definitely on my mind. I am really glad that it has come together, that I am here and that I get to race on Sunday.”
You worked and forced yourself onto the Australian Olympic team, as the opening ceremonies begin tonight, how does it feel that you will soon be competing in Rio?
“It is definitely very special and I will be tuning into the ceremonies tonight. I think that just after getting announced and being picked to the Olympic team, this journey that it has taken me on has not been easy because there has definitely been some highs and some lows and I have been mentally challenged as well, but it has ultimately given me a really great appreciation of the sport of triathlon. My first Olympic experience was watching Emma Snowsill go one and three when I was in high school in 2008, so I think junior athletes being able to see elite athletes know a lot of what I am saying, so if I can be a little bit a part of that in Montreal, I am privileged to be able to do that. I really hope that a lot of people enjoy the experience on Sunday and enjoy seeing triathlon in action.”