JOSH Stapley has found some of his best racing form at a crucial moment, winning his age group in Sunday’s Wollongong Triathlon to secure a spot at the upcoming World Championships on the Gold Coast.
Stapley hadn’t locked up a spot in the Australian team before the weekend’s final qualifying event but the Bathurst competitor was up for the challenge.
Stapley completed the Olympic distance event (1.5 kilometre swim, 40km bike and 10km run) in a time of two hours, six minutes and five seconds to break his three-year-old personal best mark.
It was a dream bounce back to form for Stapley after falling short of his goal time at nationals.
The result will give Stapley his second crack at the World Championships following his debut appearance in 2015.
Stapley did enough to hold out a fast finishing Daniel Desantis by just 40 seconds in the battle for the 20-24 years crown.
Strong swim and bike legs (third and first in his age group respectively) laid the platform for Stapley’s win along with a much-improved run leg at a pace of 4:17 a kilometre.
The result is all the more satisfying for Stapley considering his recovery from a run of injuries.
That run began two years ago with a broken neck, before illness and muscle tears hindered the process.
To land a personal best with those list of hurdles behind him had Stapley in disbelief.
“I saw the clock ticking away above the finish and knew that I would be close to a two minute PB,” Stapley said.
“Crossing that line was such a huge relief. I’ve been through a lot of adversity in the last two years with the neck injury, illness and then a muscle tear at the start of this year. It’s just been one thing after the other.
“To pull something out of the hat at the end of the season, right when I needed to, it’s got me absolutely over the moon.”
Stapley will enjoy some time away from racing before he ramps up the training in the countdown towards the world titles.
“I’ll be doing a lot of run work to get it firing and bike work to make sure I run off that well. It revolves around that for the next six months,” he said.
“I’m really lucky that I’ve got a lot of teammates who have qualified as well over the sprint distance … so I’ll be spending a lot of time in Orange with my coach and the Hyper crew to help each other get firing for our home World Champs.
“With the amount of Bathurst guys that have qualified it’s amazing. I enjoyed being able to celebrate with Terry Roberts and Mark Windsor, who also had great results at Wollongong as well.
“It will be hard work for the next six months but it’s going to be a fun ride working towards the same goal with everyone.”
Stapley wasn’t the only Bathurst competitor to win his age group at Wollongong.
Mark Windsor continued his great run of results by taking out the 55-59 years division in a time of 2:09:35.
Bathurst’s Terry Roberts wasn’t far away in the same age group, scoring bronze with a 2:16:45.
The Triathlon Age Group World Championships will be held from September 12 to 16 at the Gold Coast.