Paris spots beckon for Australian triathletes in Japan

Roger VaughanAAP
Natalie Van Coevorden will be aiming to clinch an Olympic place at Japan's world series triathlon. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconNatalie Van Coevorden will be aiming to clinch an Olympic place at Japan's world series triathlon. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Luke Willian and Natalie Van Coevorden know the easy way to put their Tokyo Olympics selection heartbreak behind them is also the most difficult.

If an Australian finishes in the top eight of Saturday's Yokohama world series triathlon race in Japan, he or she will punch their Paris ticket.

Otherwise, it's up to selectors' discretion - with the team to be named in June.

Willian and Van Coevorden narrowly missed selection for the Tokyo Games and that's been a key motivation for them ahead of this year's edition in Paris.

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So far, Matt Hauser is the only Australian who has fulfilled the selection criteria, with a team of two men and two women likely to be confirmed for the Olympics.

Willian won the Wollongong World Cup race a fortnight ago as Van Coevorden, Australia's top-ranked woman, bypassed that event in favour of a pre-Yokohama training block.

"It's given me a huge amount of confidence heading into Yokohama," Willian said of his Wollongong win.

"(Olympic selection) is why I get up every day and do what I do.

"Being so close last time and missing out really stung. It took probably a year or so to move beyond that feeling, and the real driver that got me out of that was Paris."

Hauser will lead the Australian team in Yokohama and the Tokyo Olympian will also want a strong result after food poisoning forced his late withdrawal from Wollongong.

Brandon Copeland, Jake Birtwhistle, Callum McClusky, Jaz Hedgeland, Sophie Linn, and Charlotte McShane round out the Australian team for the Olympic-distance race - a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run.

Yokohama will also feature a paratriathlon, with Australian star Lauren Parker racing in the sport for the first time since February.

Parker won para-cycling events in Belgium last week as she aims to compete in the two sports at the Paris Paralympics.

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