He’s a three-times Noosa Triathlon champion and in red-hot form off the back of consecutive Ironman 70.3 wins, but Courtney Atkinson has decided to sit the 2014 event out – quite literally. He’s testing out his tonsils and taking a seat in the commentary booth as part of the expert panel to break down Australia’s next generation of triathlon stars.
“The Noosa Tri is still the most recognised triathlon in the country from a public perspective but for the international athletes it comes at the end of a long season so some opt to focus on other aspects,” says Courtney, who finished third at the event last year and is enjoying his end-of-season break.
It has become more the race that indicates where the future of Australian triathlon lies with the young guys having their chance to match up with the current Olympic representatives.
Courtney has just finished his longest season in recent memory, coming off of his full-distance ironman assault last summer to transitioning back to triathlon enforcer. And with a decision on Rio 2016 being kept close to his chest and having enjoyed a much-needed break in Bali, he can’t think of anywhere he’d rather be on a hot Queensland day than in Noosa – in air-conditioning*… (*We may have made that last bit up).
“Haha. One can only hope,” he says with trademark grin.
“But I am looking forward to stepping into a commentary role with the TV crew for the event which is something different for me to be on the other side of the camera. It’s exciting and something I’m looking forward to being part of and seeing the race from a different perspective.”
And he watched with a grin as Red Bull stablemate Jordan Mercer claimed the weekend’s opening event – the run-swim-run- in emphatic fashion yesterday, the 20-year-old ironwoman and four-times Moloka2Oahu paddle champion beating her nearest rival by more than a minute.
As for what the rest of the year holds for Courtney? He’s back into full training in a couple weeks post his sabbatical and has both the Hamilton Island Triathlon and a new Bondi event to contest before the Bahrain half-ironman in six weeks’ time when the rest of us will be preparing to loosen our belts for a Christmas feast.
The Noosa Tri takes place Sunday.