Wollongong's world triathlon champion Aaron Royle will defend his Australia Day Duathlon title in January.
To have an elite international athlete of Royle's ability compete in the Wollongong duathlon again is a coup for event director Rob Battocchio.
Royle, who has won the past two Australia Day Duathlons in Wollongong and will be aiming to achieve his hat-trick for that race on his 23rd birthday, shone in the sporting spotlight this week after winning the International Triathlon Union under-23 world championship in Auckland last Saturday, the first time an Australian had won such a title in the past decade.
Royle revealed yesterday at the official launch of the Australia Day Aquathon and Splash and Dash summer fun and fitness events that he got just as nervous before the Illawarra duathlon as he did before elite international races.
After preseason training for next year, Royle treats the duathlon as the start of his competitive year.
"It generally kicks off my season. Right now we're in a bit of an off season and down time, then head to Falls Creek [for altitude training in the Victorian alpine region] for a few months, then we normally come down from Falls Creek and we start with this as the first race of the season," Royle said.
"The nerves are there. For us it's a great event. We're competing in races against the world.
"You're always unsure of how your form is and how you're going to be feeling out there.
"Between our group we train together and we look relaxed, we have a little joke, but inside everyone's wanting to win and everyone's caught the butterflies because it's the first one.
"And you want the bragging rights over your training partners."