Courtney Atkinson’s possible return to Olympic qualification took a step in the right direction over the weekend with the Gold Coast product claiming a sprint finish victory at the Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3 to secure his second major victory in as many months.
Having hinted towards a possible return to Olympic distance competition ahead of Rio 2016, the triathlete has been working hard at rediscovering the trademark speed he was forced to give up in favour of endurance tactics earlier this year.
And off the back of a win at the Singapore ITU last month and some cross country events, it looks like Courtney is well and truly on his way to returning to his Olympic best. Though he’s yet to make a final decision.
“It’s good to be back confident and relaxed with my racing,” Courtney says.
“I knew my body was healthy and in good form from the running racing I have been putting myself through over the past months plus the confidence boost in that ITU race in Singapore. I was moving very well and felt great all race but my concern was with the distance.”
It was the longest race Courtney has contested since completing the Melbourne Ironman earlier this year and up against him, some of endurance ironman’s best.
“I knew the guys I was racing would likely be completing week-in, week-out around the globe while I was relying on my freshness and form from shorter training and racing,” Courtney continues.
“So I was happy to let the race pan out and wait for a sprint….but it was still bloody close!
"It turned into a real match race in the end where although we still ran a pretty fast 21.2km (1:12hr) over a tough course, there were points we were jogging and then surging trying to break away. But in end came to a sprint anyhow."
When you go to sprint after almost four hours of hurting yourself, it’s always an unknown how the legs are going to react. Luckily for me, they held up.
Courtney came home ahead of Dan Wilson in a time of 03.45.35 hours, with Kona World Champion ironman Pete Jacobs in third.
He’s got another 70.3 around the corner but for the meantime at least, Courtney says he’ll be taking it easy.
“The most active I will get is driving the WRX down to pick the kid up from school!” he finishes with a laugh.