Junior World Champion Ashleigh Gentle showed why she will be a force to be reckoned with over the next 15 months after taking out a convincing win at the Gold Coast Tri – Luke Harrop Memorial in spectacular conditions at Southport Parklands on the Gold Coast today.
This event pays tribute to Luke Harrop each year, remembering the former champion triathlete’s zest for life in the Gold Coast race that he loved so much and now named in his honor
Harrop, brother of 2004 Olympic silver medallist Loretta Harrop, was killed when hit by a stolen car while riding on the Gold Coast back in 2002 and the annual event is a tribute to one of Australia’s finest young athletes, taken at aged 24.
But today some of Australia’s finest young triathletes showed the same kind of grit determination that made Harrop the triathlete he was.
And it was another Gold Coast local Gentle who ended her strong domestic racing season at the event which doubled as the 2010/11 Queensland Tri Series Grand Final
Gentle crossed the finish line to win the women’s race almost two-and-a-half minutes ahead of Germany’s Marion Summerer and Buderim’s Chloe Turner who placed second and third respectively.
The win is a solid end to her season, after placing second at the world famous Noosa Triathlon in October last year, taking out the Oceania ITU title at Mooloolaba and consistently making it on the podium in most of her domestic races.
And a consolation after she punctured within striking distance in the Ishigaki ITU World Cup two weeks ago, which saw her easily produce the fastest run leg of the day in a stunning fightback.
“I’ve just got to keep working and obviously I need to keep improving as the standard of the other girls improve, but I’m slowly getting there, it’s been a long time coming but hopefully as the season progresses even further I can continue to improve on it,” she added.
“I’m going to head over to Europe at the start of June to compete in a few races there and get a good training block in before the World Championships (in Beijing in September).
In the men’s race Kenmore Hills' Ryan Fisher snuck home just 6 seconds ahead of Gold Coast based Bryce McMaster in a close tussle. The pair have duelled all series with James Seear from Brookfield (Brisbane) rounding out the podium. The trio remained in a tight pack throughout the 750m swim; 20km cycle and 5km run.
Today’s win ended the domestic season for Fisher who will now head overseas to train and race the European circuit.
“I’m off to Japan in a couple of weeks and then come back to Australia before we go to train from a base in France for three months and race the European circuit,” said Fisher.
“The race was good, the swim was pretty solid, James and Bryce were just out of the water and I was just behind them and it was a group of four of us on the bike pretty much the whole way.”
McMaster who won the opening race the series at Raby Bay and Fisher who claimed victory in final race of the series today have been battling it out for first and second place all season.
“It was great today, Ryan and I finished the series the way we started, this time he got me and at the start I got him. It’s good to see we’ve got a little battle going on,” McMaster said.
McMaster is focussing on the road ahead with plans to head to Asia and then ultimately achieve his target, to claim a podium finish at the world renowned Noosa Triathlon in October 2011.
“My target is definitely to finish the ITU season but definitely a major target for me is Noosa. The plan is to come home to Australia and absolutely fly at Noosa. I finished top 10 this year but next time I’m going for the podium,” McMaster said.
It is also the final race in the Luke Harrop Memorial Bursary. The other two events being Mooloolaba and Noosa triathlons, all three were Luke’s favourite races.
A cash grant of $1000 is awarded to the U23 male and female winner at each of these events with a further bonus of $1500 given to the overall winners (male and female) of the Luke Harrop Memorial Bursary.
For Gentle and Fisher the win handed them a triple treat – line honours, Bursary event win and secured them the overall Bursary series win.
“It’s such nice weather and it’s so good to be out here to support the Luke Harrop Memorial and the entire Harrop Family,” Gentle said.
McMaster’s second placing and Turner’s third placing was good enough to see them crowned 2010/2011 Queensland Tri Series Champions.
Returning to take part in her brothers’ race once again, Olympic silver medallist Loretta Harrop competed in a team along with Luke’s best mates former junior world champion Chris Hill and Nino Calabro before presenting the Bursary winners with their cheques and trophies.
“It’s just great being part of this day each year, it’s really special to our family and I’ve pledged to do the entire race next year to mark the tenth anniversary of Luke passing, ” said Harrop.
USM Events/ Triathlon Australia