Jake Birtwhistle will be hoping his midas touch on the Gold Coast will extend to Sunday after dominating Triathlon Australia’s awards banquet on Thursday night.
In the same city where he confirmed his Commonwealth Games selection and then claimed gold and silver medals, the Tasmanian star won best male performer of the year and then doubled up with the prestigious athletes’ athlete award.
Birtwhistle was proud to accept the accolades in front of 1000 people at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, but said he remains focused on the final leg of the World Triathlon Series.
“If you’d have told me 12 months ago, that I would be in second place coming into this year’s grand final I would have taken it with open arms,” Birtwhistle said.
“It has certainly been an amazing year, starting out I guess with the Commonwealth Games which was just amazing and now finishing on the Gold Coast after a busy WTS.
“I’m very happy with how the year has gone but we still have a job to do come Sunday.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to get on the podium again and it’s cool to be back here on the Gold Coast.”
In what Triathlon Australia called the biggest ever gathering of Australian athletes from one sport in one room, the Riverside 23-year-old was recognised for his second-placed WTS finishes in Hamburg and Edmonton, spearheading Australia to gold in the mixed team relay and claiming individual silver and team gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Birtwhistle will be joined by Australian teammates Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie, Ryan Fisher and Luke Willian in Sunday’s elite race with his sights set on WTS-leading Spaniard Mario Mola who he trains with under coach Joel Filiol.
“It’s a massive thing actually to first of all train in France at the Pyrenees and then move up even higher to Flagstaff, it was tough going,” Birtwhistle said.
“It definitely gives you benefits but it is also very personal and everyone reacts differently and you never really know what to expect.
“Compared to the other boys, I really noticed it and actually struggled quite a bit. I found it quite challenging but you have to take a step back and realise it’s not the same for everyone.”
Birtwhistle’s Commonwealth Games teammates Ashleigh Gentle and Matt Hauser were also among the winners. In her home town, Gentle was named female performer of the year while Hauser was presented with the Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award.
Hauser, Gentle, Justin Godfrey, Emily Tapp, Nic Beveridge and Bill Chaffey were all nominated for the athletes athlete award won by Birtwhistle.
The award is voted for by all those with a professional athlete membership and honours the athlete who has shown the most outstanding performance over the previous ITU and WTS racing season and demonstrated leadership skills, ambassador of the sport qualities and positive attitude.
The night attracted 946 age group athletes plus elites, coaches and officials as 5000 triathletes from around the world prepare for the ITU World Triathlon grand final.
Birtwhistle was unable to attend the awards night but sent a video thank you and his awards were accept by his father Alan.