22 April

Brothers-in-Arms: The Varga-Salvisberg Story

Many of our Super League Triathlon athletes came up through the ITU system together. On Super League Hamilton Island weekend Richard Varga (#12) had a constant shadow in the form of Andrea Salvisberg (#69), and for good reason. The two have been racing each other since 2006 and nearly always alongside each other as their abilities are nearly matched.

The close-quarters, three-day racing of Super League Triathlon brought their history of racing into stark relief for Salvisberg, who tracked down their races together and graphed their respective progress through the years. “It was fun to see I raced him so many times,” the multiple Swiss national champion said. “And it is great to see that we both improved over the years… We have similar good results! Swim and bike fast.”

“Sometimes one better, sometimes the other one,” noted Varga, the two-time Olympian. Coming up through the juniors, their first race against each other was at the 2006 ETU Autun European Championships in France where Salvisberg finished in 30th place, 29 places ahead of Varga. The results got closer and closer as both of them developed and entered elite competition.

As they became mainstays of the World Triathlon Series circuit they raced each other more often, even figuring in races within races: at WTS Cape Town 2016 they battled on a 400-meter sprint to the finish for 9th place.

The two grew into fierce competitors on course and great friends off course. “Richard and I are very similar in our life next to triathlon,” said Salvisberg. “I think that is why we get along so well.”

When they both secured berths for the 2016 Olympic Games, Salvisberg decided the best preparation would be alongside his friend and erstwhile rival. “I always enjoyed racing with him and that is why I asked him if I could join him in camp with the Brownlees -- but more because of him than the Brownlees.”

Varga recalled the Olympic preparation and race fondly. “He did the most of this important season together with us, training really hard and talking about how the race can go. And then we were going almost the whole race together, next to each other. That was cool,” he said. They finished within a few places of each other, Varga in 11th and Salvisberg in 16th.

For Salvisberg, the Super League Hamilton Island is the most memorable race he’s had with Varga. “We raced together and not against each other!” Varga finished in 5th and Salvisberg in 10th, but the overall result does not reflect how closely these two athletes contested each stage and each day of Super League Hamilton Island.

With more Super League Triathlon events on the horizon, expect more action and races within races from these world-class athletes.

 

photo by Delly Carr

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19 April

New Kid on the Block: Matt Hauser

When Super League Hamilton Island first aired, there were plenty of questions about the athletes wearing white suits in contrast to the yellow suits the others wore. These were junior athletes invited to compete alongside the best in the world to expose them to world-class racing. One of them, Matt Hauser, would race against them for his first World Triathlon Series race on the Gold Coast a month later.

 

“I'd only just heard about the competition on Hamilton Island and my Coach Dan Atkins and I were saying to ourselves just how awesome it would be to experience this revolutionary genre of racing,” he said. “I got off the plane after traveling to Perth to defend my Oceania Junior Title and the phone rang with [Super League Triathlon co-founder] Chris McCormack on the other line. The idea of racing some of my idols didn't really sink in until I touched down on the island.”

 

Having been named to the Australian Commonwealth Games NextGen squad, Hauser is one of Australia’s best emerging talents. He has won the Australian Junior Triathlon Series twice and the Oceania Junior Triathlon Championships four times. As Australian junior champion he automatically qualified for the ITU Grand Final in Cozumel, where he finished fifth junior in the world.

 

At Super League Hamilton Island, Hauser finished 13th in the field beating out more experienced competitors. The performance exceeded his own expectations. He said, “I came into the weekend knowing that it was going to be one of the toughest weekends I would face. I was aiming to get at least a top 15 and get contracted for the series. To get 13th made me proud. I felt like I got stronger mentally and physically as the weekend wore on.”

 

Racing against athletes he looked up to also prepared him for his debut on the WTS circuit. “I simply learnt that the triathletes I've watched on TV from a young age sweat and suffer just like I do. They are human,” he said. “The thing that Super League Triathlon has done for me has certainly granted me more confidence and taught me to feel comfortable amongst world-class company. It's almost fast-forwarded the process for me.”

 

Hauser is working toward a berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and will be racing more, even while juggling a degree in Business at Griffith University. “Next up for me is Chengdu World Cup, followed by a small break. Then I'll hope to chase a few more WTS starts later on in the year before lining up for the Junior World Championships in September. I also hope to continue racing the Super League Triathlon series from October through to next year.”

 

photo by Delly Carr

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28 March

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH SUPER LEAGUE TRIATHLON'S FIRST CHAMPION

Singapore (March 28, 2017) - When Richard Murray hoisted the solid bronze champions trophy above his head two Sundays ago, its weight was symbolic of what he had achieved: he had triumphed over the best in the world across three days of intense super-sprint racing to become the first Super League Triathlon champion.

This was a man who had five-to-one odds against even being on the podium, yet those who were keen observers of the sport, like Super League Triathlon co-founder Chris McCormack, knew he was very capable of walking away with the $100,000 AUD top prize. The South African rated himself more modestly, though.

“I knew where my body was at, but after only a few events and about four speed running sessions this year I was not very sure,” said Murray of his confidence leading into Super League Hamilton Island. Once racing had commenced, though, he had a better idea of his chances. “On the first day, I noticed that this type of format really does suit me: I raced road cycling and was a 800/1500-meter runner.” The experience definitely showed.

It wasn’t all wine and roses, however. Behind the scenes, Murray managed ankle and Achilles pain throughout the weekend with the help of Super League Triathlon’s team of physiotherapists, including Gold Coast-based Brad Beer of Pogo Physios with whom he continues to work after the race. Yet once the start gun fired on each day, Murray showed no sign of weakness with his poker face and piercing glare. “Three days of racing is tactical. I’m a very good couch surfer and staying low when I need to,” Murray revealed.

Murray knew exactly how to play the game with his secret recipe of patience, consistency, and being in the right place at the right time. For most of each day’s racing he stayed within striking distance of the front and only unleashed hard for the front in the final minutes.

His closest competitors were 2016 ITU world champion Mario Mola and young up-and-comer Jake Birtwhistle, the 2015 Under-23 world champion, who finished second and third overall respectively. All the other athletes on the start list were nothing to sneeze at, either. “The quality was there: world champions, Olympic champions, you name it.” But Murray relished the challenge. “High-octane, flat-out, and no fear racing -- that’s what I love.”

Even with the high points of winning both Day 1 and Day 2 of racing, Day 3 where Murray finished third was the most memorable to him. The past two days of heat had broken to bring on torrential downpours, bringing temperatures down and soaking the bike course. It was also the day athletes needed to go fast enough through the first two stages of the Eliminator in order to make the final stage and race for the win. “Swimming behind the Polyanskiy brothers, next to Henri Schoeman, and counting how many people there were in each stage -- that was really cool,” Murray recalled.

“Also some of the team crew cheering for us when we were warming up in the rain before the final day’s racing was quite special. Kudos to the team in the rain and caring for the athletes first. This should be seen by all other triathlon event organizers.” 

 

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