Relentless Rio

Triathlete Courtney Atkinson under heat at Olympic qualifiers
Courtney Atkinson Action Bike © Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Rakic

After announcing his official return to triathlon this year in a bid to become the first Australian triathlete to contest three consecutive Olympic Games, Courtney Atkinson had his first taste of the 2016 competition today at the official Rio Qualifying event on the Olympic course.

With seven months of buildup and strong results in Australia and Asia behind him, Courtney entered the contest optimistic but realistic. It’s just the first of many qualifying opportunities for event over the coming 10 months and only the top-10 would automatically qualify. And while he mightn’t have been quick enough to score a top-10 finish in his first all-in international race against the world’s best, Courtney says he’s not disappointed but motivated more than ever to improve and make that third Australian Olympic team.“All things considered, I’m good,” Courtney said today from Rio.

Having been away for a couple years and only just coming back, I’m still struggling with a low international ranking which makes it tough to get across the field to the inside lines and run with the best ranked races.

It’s effectively like starting at the back of a grid in a V8 Supercars race. No matter how quick you are, you’re going to come across a helluva lot more obstacles. “I was ranked 61 from 75 and made up a helluva lot of spots given the starting position, so there's plenty of reason for optimism,” Courtney continued. “I’m optimistic about moving forward and will still be fighting to be in Rio again next year as part of the Australian Olympic team.

“I was so positive in my form and training coming over here. So there’s no crying around here. Just didn’t work today. I’m still driven - maybe even more so now to be racing here next year at the main event.” As for the course, Courtney was impressed by the landscape and can’t wait to get back.

“I was appreciative to have the opportunity to get to the test course in the first place and the good things is, I now know where where I’m at and what to expect next year,” he continued. “The course is awesome for an Olympics. Magic swim out at Copacabana, not much surf but plenty of chop. “The bike was status quo and the run is straight up and down flat on the esplanade. Great crowds and hot and humid. “Which is why in the future I’ll go back to basing training in Europe leading up before coming to Rio again as the trip from Australia on a tight turnaround is a challenge.”

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