Let the Belmore Basin battle begin

AQUATHON 

It's hard to imagine Belmore Basin being any further removed than the beaches of Brazil, but it may just be the low-key starting point which inspires the next wave of Rio hopefuls.

Among the more than 2000 entrants lining up in Australia's largest swim-run event today in Wollongong will be a sprinkling of 2012 Olympians and world-ranked triathletes.

Think they're over the Olympic experience after their London exertions? Think again.

"It's more about unfinished business for me," said Brendan Sexton, who finished 35th in London. "To cross the finish line was a massive relief to get through it all.

"I wasn't happy with my result so after switching off and having a bit of no-triathlon time I decided that Rio was something I wanted to look forward to and improve on what I did.

"I can also see how if you were to be successful how addictive that would be as well."

American Gwen Jorgensen has used an altitude training camp at Falls Creek in Victoria to sharpen her fitness after a flat tyre blighted her London race.

Quizzed on whether the relative latecomer to the sport had immediately switched her focus to Rio, Jorgensen said: "I did. That's definitely the next major goal.

"It's something people work up towards for four years and it's a huge event and afterwards some people don't know what to do for a little bit. The goal is to just go out there and have fun [today] and have it as a benchmark. It's just exciting and it will be fun to experience what our version of 4th of July is."

But perhaps the man they'll all be chasing is triathlon's recently-crowned world under-23 champion Aaron Royle.

The Wollongong-based Royle has had extra cause to celebrate his birthday the last two years, blitzing the Australia Day Aquathon field both times.

He is on the road to recovery after a recent tendonitis complaint and now holds no fears against the world's best open racers - including training partner Sexton who is mulling again setting up base in Wollongong.

"At the start I was a little bit nervous and felt I didn't really belong among that calibre of athletes [on the senior circuit last year]," Royle said.

"Definitely after my result in Auckland I really feel like I'm part of the mix and really feel like I should be in the race and competitive. There hasn't been [Australia Day Aquathon] competition like this before."

Other high-profile entries for the 900 metre swim and 7 kilometre run include Italian national champion Annamaria Mazzetti (46th in London), former French Olympian Greg Rouault and star American Matt Charbott.

Defending female champion Natalie Van Coevorden is back to defend her crown.

The 14s and over event will begin at 8am. The shorter versions for 12s and over (400 metre swim and 3 kilometre run), kids from ages six to 12 (150m swim and 2km run) and 3km walk for charity will all start from 9.10am onwards.

Late entries can still be lodged from 6.15am onwards at Belmore Basin this morning.

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