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The Aussie Women: King, Jones, Harrop, Gallager, Carney, Hill, Hackett, Keat, Mitchell, depth...2000 gold

Winning worlds is easy compared to making the Australian women's Tri team.

It's a dilemma that plagues a select few countries in the world. The Austrians face it in skiing. A team with so much talent that some of the best in the world are not allowed to compete in the Olympics because their teammates are performing better. No matter that they have a real chance to win a race on any given day, there are others that have a better chance. So it is with the Australian women's triathlon squad--too much depth.

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"Damn, bloody Australians. I have been beaten by almost every Australian this year: Emma, Jackie, Loretta, Joanne. But I actually haven't finished out of the top three since 1991, so I have a pretty good record. And Joanne had a great race today and she definitely deserved to win...I think it's great for the sport to have new faces to race."

-- Michellie Jones
post worlds

Joanne King, 1998 ITU World Champion

    Last year at Perth the Aussie women swept both the elite and junior races. The elites placed five athletes in the top 12 and the juniors took five of the top seven slots. They accomplished this without the help of this year's world champion, Joanne King, who didn't race in either category--she was too old for juniors and didn't qualify for the elites. This year they took four of the top six elite spots and five of the top 12 junior places, including 1-2 in both divisions. 
    Now consider that Beth Thomson, who was this year's third- place junior racing for Great Britain, placed second at last year's worlds racing as an Australian.  That country is so bloated with female stars that they've taken to exporting racers out of the country. Of course, the move doesn't hurt Thomson's chances of racing as an elite next year under a British flag. Britain's top female, Steph Forrester, placed 16th in Lausanne.
    The Aussies spice their raft of talent with an incredible desire to win, for themselves and for their country. Now put the first Olympic triathlon on the Australian home court. Does anyone want to bet against the likelihood that the women from down under will hold the gold in Sydney? If you know someone who does, there's still that bridge waiting in Brooklyn.
   No one appreciates the bittersweet reality of the Aussie "problem" more than the Australians. Champion King almost didn't go to Lausanne. "I was the last one selected in the Australian team," she said. "I had to have a good race at the Gamagori [Japan] ITU race. I finished third there, so that put me on the Australian team."
    What does she think of her chances at the 2000 Olympics? "First of all, the biggest struggle will be to make the Australian team. So, once I do that then maybe I can start thinking of the 2000 Olympics."
    Scary thought, if King can beat Michellie Jones and Jackie Gallagher, and she's still worried about making the cut, what super heroines will be vying for gold in Sydney? Bets anyone?
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Jrs. Rebekah Keat, Aus; Nicole Hackett, Aus; Beth Thomson, Gbr (formerly Aus)

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