PHOTOS: All systems go for national triathlon championship
HERVEY Bay will step into the national sporting spotlight today as Australia's best junior triathletes prepare for one of their biggest competitions of the year.
The Fraser Coast destination will host the School Sport Australia Triathlon Championship, with the first race to start tomorrow morning.
Organiser Brian Harrington spent much of yesterday preparing both the course and meeting with SSA officials.
About 190 competitors from all but one Australian state and territory (Northern Territory is not represented) will converge at the Discovery Sphere for this morning's opening ceremony.
They will then venture across the strait to Fraser Island before competition heats up tomorrow.
Harrington nominated West Australian Jessica Claxton as one competitor to watch, but could not pick any race favourites.
Claxton, 16, won the Oceania Junior Women's Championship in Gisborne, New Zealand, in March and is one of the sport's rising stars.
She finished second in the Australian Junior Triathlon Series, just seven points behind Queenslander Sophie Malowiecki.
"The rest are going to be extremely close," he said.
"This is the cream of the crop so there should be some great racing.
"Hopefully we can win our 11th title in a row. I've coached in the last nine (Harrington is not coaching this year), but I don't want to lose on home soil."
Hervey Bay triathlete Matt Hauser, the junior men's AJTS and Oceania champion, will be in town as guest speaker at the championships. The opening ceremony will start at 9.30am.
Facts and figures
About 190 students aged 13 to 19 will compete. There will be about 36 from Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, 20 from South Australia, 16 from Tasmania and 10 from the ACT.
Queensland has won the past 10 titles, and Brian Harrington was involved in nine triumphs.
Lochie Armstrong and Todd Baldwin are the only Fraser Coast athletes representing Queensland.