Defending champion Sam Appleton lines up for trifecta in Ironman 70.3 Geelong

UPDATE, Thursday, February 14:

Sam Appleton has withdrawn from the Geelong Ironman 70.3 on February 17 after injuring his knee earlier this week.

“MRI results have shown a grade 1 ACL tear. It is not too serious but I need to make sure I look after my health rather than chase performance,” Appleton said.

“If I compete I run the risk of damaging it further by pushing through and I prefer to nip it in the bud now rather than have it drag on for months. At this stage in the season I want to make sure my knee gets the right treatment and heals 100 per cent before racing again.”

Sam Appleton crosses the finish line in last year's Ironman 70.3 Geelong.

Sam Appleton crosses the finish line in last year's Ironman 70.3 Geelong.

No one knows more about winning at Geelong’s Eastern Beach than defending Ironman 70.3 Geelong champion Sam Appleton and the boy from the Blue Mountains is heading back to Corio Bay see if he can make it three in a row on February 17.

The former Warrimoo resident has dominated the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Ironam 70.3 Geelong and after a relaxing off season back home, he is itching to kick start the first half of the 2019 season with a three peat, before tying the knot with his partner Sarah in June.

“Overall 2018 was a very positive season for me. I had three 70.3 wins and also snagged sixth at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs in South Africa which gave me further affirmation that I have what it takes to mix it up with the best in the world. I had some health issues halfway through the year but overcoming those and still being able to race at a competitive level is something I was really proud of,” he said.

“I didn’t do anything too extreme in the off season. I try and fully detach from triathlon as much as I can which ensures my mind and body are fresh for the season ahead. I spent Christmas and New Year with my family in Australia which was great, and I also had my bucks party which was a great weekend spent with my closest friends.”

He is getting married in Colorado on June 21, saying “we are so excited to share the day with our friends and family”.

“My training has been going reasonably well so far. I started back after the new year and have been slowly building up my fitness. I have just come off a training camp with my coach in Phoenix, Arizona, and that camp is always a good opportunity to build some fitness leading into Geelong,” he said.

Appleton will have his work cut out for him on February 17 with five-time ITU World Triathlon champion, Olympic silver medallist and former Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Javier Gomez making his Geelong debut, alongside Aussies Josh Amberger and Tim van Berkel.

“There is talk that Javier is racing, so excuse me while I go out and do another run session right now. In all seriousness though, Javi is a great athlete and I never personally have a problem with racing some of the bigger names in the sport. It excites me to challenge myself against the best and often draws the best out of me,” said Appleton.

Racing first up in Geelong has become a successful strategy for the former St Columba’s Catholic College student, who has become Australia’s most successful athlete over the Ironman 70.3 distance of recent years.

“I really like the race in Geelong. It's the first Australian race of the year and always attracts a good field with everyone itching to get out there and start the season on a positive note. I have been lucky enough to win the last two years and I am hoping I can go for the trifecta.”