Aaron Royle focuses on Abu Dhabi triathlon

Monday, January 21, 2019

AARON ROYLEOLYMPIC dreams will be pushed firmly to the back of Aaron Royle’s mind as he focuses on a more immediate reality – the season-opening International Triathlon Union world series race in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The short-course showdown is the first of 10 world series races Royle plans to contest this year, but his ultimate challenge will be a separate Olympic test event to be held on the same course as the Rio 2016 Games in August.

That race will provide a chance to qualify for next year’s Olympics. Finishing as the top-placed Australian, and inside the first 10, will secure automatic qualification.

Royle, the 25-year-old from Maryland, said it was important not to be distracted from the task at hand.

‘‘It’s all about producing my best performance and worrying about the processes, rather than the outcome,’’ he told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘We won’t be talking about finishing top10. It’s all about focusing on doing our best and hopefully the byproduct will be selection.

‘‘But of course I’m thinking about Rio. I started thinking about Rio four years ago.

‘‘But there’s other races I need to perform in before then, so I’m just aiming to do my best in each race along the way.’’

Royle, who was 10th on last year’s world rankings, had no qualms about Olympic selection riding on a one-off race, rather than consistency over the course of a long season.

‘‘That’s what the Olympics is,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s one race and it’s about who can step up on that day and perform in a pressure scenario.

‘‘It is quite different racing throughout a series rather than just target a big race.

‘‘The Olympics is a once-in-every-four-years chance, and you have to do it on that day.’’

After a successful 2014, in which he placed third in the opening race of the ITU season, collected a team bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, and scored a hat-trick of second-tier race wins in Las Vegas, Noosa and Nepean, Royle was hoping to use that as a springboard to bigger and better things.

‘‘If I could finish in the top eight in Abu Dhabi it would be a good start,’’ he said.