Blue Mountains professional triathletes Sam Appleton, Patrick Baldacchino and Andrea Oracki are looking forward to the upcoming ironman season after posting impressive performances in the start of the year.
“I think we are starting to see potential in our form and we are all only going to get better,” said Warrimoo’s Sam Appleton who finished second in the Huskisson Long Course Triathlon on February 17.
At 22, Appleton is the most experienced professional having already raced in Europe against the sport’s big names and had been a contender to represent Australia at the London Olympics.
His second place at Huskisson was secured after closing out the 20km run with a blistering time of 1:09:25, following a 2km swim of 22:10 and 83km bike of 2:02:56.
“Huskisson is one of the biggest triathlon festivals in Australia and the long course triathlon always has a great field with many of Australia’s top long course pros racing,” said event organiser, Mark Emerton, the CEO of Elite Energy.
“Sam had a great race here last year and this year he showed his class by staying in touch with one of the world’s fastest runners over this distance in Tim Reed.”
At the recent Asia Pacific Half Ironman Championship in Auckland, Appleton was unlucky to place seventh after starting the run with the pack before being sent the wrong way by marshals.
“I should have known better, but having mixed it up with the best names in the business has made me realise coming back to the sport is where I belong. I was also unlucky two weeks later at Geelong, where I ran an extra 2km to miss the podium.”
Appleton is balancing the competing demands of university, working at Springwood Pool, along with training more than 25 hours a week.
“I have raised some eyebrows on the ironman circuit but I need to now be consistent and weigh up whether to dedicate myself full-time to triathlon. The results I got from Auckland, Geelong, and Husky show promise.”
For both Andrea Oracki and Patrick Baldacchino, their first professional race for the season was at the Huskisson Long Course event.
“I was happy with fourth on debut as a pro,” said Glenbrook’s Oracki, recent ITU (International Triathlon Union) Age Group World Champion.
The 26-year-old was second out of the water against specialist swimmers before being pressed on the bike.
“The cycle definitely needs some work, but now that I have a new set of race wheels, I look forward to my next race.”
Oracki is targeting the 70.3 ironman circuit with a long term goal of going to Kona, Hawaii for the ironman championships.
Patrick Baldacchino, 23 of Blaxland, is just returning to the sport after a long hiatus and is being coached by previous Australian ironman champion Trent Chapman.
“I always wanted to return to triathlon but I wanted a trade behind me. Having this break has made me hungrier than ever to succeed,” he said.
Blue Mountains marathon clinic president, Ben Berriman, touts Baldacchino as good as Chris McCormack.
“Pat is a very rare athlete in that he is like Chris McCormack, succeeding at national cross country races against specialist runners and then succeeding in triathlon,” said Berriman.
The three local triathletes are considering entering the upcoming Elite Energy Olympic Distance race at Wollongong on March 10. The race is the premier race of its distance in NSW and is a qualifying race for the ITU world championship in London.