Ashleigh Gentle hopeful of defending triathlon title in Singapore

By James Reid

Ashleigh Gentle begins the defence of her T100 Triathlon World Tour title in Singapore and believes she can hit the ground running despite missing the tour’s opening stop in Miami.

Gentle took victory in Singapore last year but knows she will face stiff competition to retain her crown in the rebranded T100 Tour, which pits 40 of the world’s best athletes against each other across eight races in some of the world’s best locations.

The Australian chose to miss the first race in Miami last month but the 33-year-old is placing faith in her ability to produce her best in the high heats of South East Asia after a sweltering summer of training at home in Queensland.

“It my the first race of the year and there is that feeling that I will build into the year but on the flip side, Singapore is a race that really suits me and I need to seize that opportunity,” she said.

“I need to make sure I am firing and I can make good of this opportunity. I can manage the conditions quite well usually and I have a really good intuition of how hard I can dig in really hard conditions.

“|It has been a really tough summer. It has been extremely hot and humid, it was pretty brutal but it is great preparation for this race in Singapore.

"But I go into this race thinking I don’t really know where I’m at because the whole summer I have been making sure I go by feel, I don’t dig too deep."

Gentle arrives in Singapore with a target on her back following her victory last August, as she stormed to victory in 3 hours 41 minutes 15 seconds to clinch the third PTO victory of her career.

The Australian admits that adds extra pressure on her return to the city-state but is determined to embrace the extra eyes on her as she goes for back-to-back victories.

“As the defending champion there is always going to be an element of pressure because there is that expectation,” she said.

“Singapore was my best performance last year, I don’t know if I can do that again on Saturday but there is an expectation from other people that I can.

“For me, it is about taking that as a privilege. I would rather be defending champ and have a bit of pressure than not be. It’s an honour.

“I have had a long career and there have been times where things haven’t gone so well so I need to make sure that I am grateful for all the times it is going well. That comes with extra pressure and expectation but I think it’s worth it.”

Singapore will be Gentle’s first stop of what could be another six races across the rest of the year, including visits to Las Vegas, San Francisco and London, before culminating in November’s Grand Final.

Over $7m of prize money will be handed out along the way and Gentle knows it is very much a marathon not a sprint if she wants to end up on top of the podium in six months’ time.

She added: “There’s part of me that wants to go hell for leather straight off the bat and be in awesome form straight away and hope I can start off with a bang in Singapore.

"But there is another part of me that thinks to tone your excitement down, don’t do anything stupid, you’ve got to stay healthy. That’s what is gong to help you perform over a season.

“There are big gaps between the races, especially at the start of the season, so you are able to hit the races pretty hard. I am just focused on the T100 races, so I am allowing myself to recover and then build myself up to the next race.

“I am used to racing a lot and racing at a really high level against the best in the world every race so I am excited that the T100 series is giving us that opportunity again.

“I would love to win the series or be on the podium. The athletes that I am racing are incredible and hugely talented so if I am able to do that I know that I have performed exceptionally well because there are a lot of us who have a chance to be on that podium.”