Ashleigh Gentle in action

Ashleigh Gentle in action. Credit: Triathlon Australia - Twitter

The Australian Triathlon team has a strong history at the Olympics. The six-person team for Tokyo 2020 is hoping to continue that success.

The Australian Triathlon team of six athletes has been announced for the Triathlon at Tokyo 2020, where the athletes will compete in the traditional Olympic triathlons, and the debut Mixed Triathlon Relay.

Australia is the only nation to have qualified the full quota of six athletes, which is a reflection of the consistency of Australia’s performance across the Olympiad.

Ashleigh Gentle and Aaron Royle are both returning to the Olympics, after making their debut at Rio 2016. Royle finished ninth that time around and is determined to do better at Tokyo 2020.

Jake Birtwhistle, Matt Hauser, Jaz Hedgeland and Emma Jeffcoat are all making their Olympics debuts, but all have plenty of experience under their belt.

Royle admitted that the fact that he had been to Rio 2016 didn’t help his nerves before the selection for the Tokyo team.

“Our call was set for 7:30am so it’s fair to say I had a pretty restless sleep that night,” Royle said.

“Obviously I was over the moon… but mainly I felt very relieved and proud to hear the words ‘you will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Team’.”

The past five years have been challenging for Royle, and have not been smooth sailing, despite the nomination to two Olympics.

“Injuries, changing training locations and coaches, having to overcome many days of self doubt,” Royle explained.

“Ultimately, I learnt to find the joy in the struggle and to embrace this journey.”

Emma Jeffcoat was a late transition to Triathlon, having been a Surf Lifesaver since 2015.

“I could not be more proud to be named on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team,” Jeffcoat explained.

“When I look does at my Olympic Team polo and those Olympic rings you just can’t wipe the smile off my face.”

Jeffcoat joins a rich history of triathletes named ‘Emma’, as the fourth Australian Emma to be selected for the Olympic Triathlon, in just six Olympiads. Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffatt won gold and bronze at Beijing 2008 respectively, while Emma Jackson was eighth at London 2012.

Jeffcoat was excited at the announcement of her selection, and to join that rich history.

“It’s a dream, and it’s a dream come true and I don’t think it will ever get old, I’ll never lose the smile when I remember I’m going to be an Olympian,” Jeffcoat said.

“When I moved to triathlon, people said well you’ll have to do well because your name is Emma and now five years on and to be going to Tokyo as an Australian Olympic triathlete named Emma is special.”

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Triathlon Australia’s Performance Director Justin Drew lauded the athletes who qualified and noting that the six quota spots were a testament to their consistency and performance.

“Ashleigh has achieved a host of major WTS and World Cup podiums including her Grand Final win in 2018 as well as her relay results and Royle is an experienced campaigner across individual and relay events who has been a part of multiple world championship medal teams in relay and a top 10 finisher individually in Rio” Drew said.

“Then there’s an athlete of Birtwhistle’s calibre who is the only man to win two WTS races in the last full season in 2019 as well as the emerging talents of Hauser, Hedgeland and Jeffcoat.”


Australian Triathlon Team

Jacob BirtwhistleDebut
Ashleigh GentleSecond Games – Rio 2016
Matthew HauserDebut
Jaz HedgelandDebut
Emma JeffcoatDebut
Aaron RoyleSecond Games – Rio 2016

The individual triathlon events will be held of 26 and 27 July, and the Triathlon relay will be on 31 July.

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