THEY are the Port Macquarie quartet who share the same passion of the sport that will take them to the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast.
Greg Brooks, Zoe Dowsett, Ian Thomson and Belinda Johnson will join more than 5000 of the world’s best elite and age group triathletes for the final race of the 2018 season.
Half of the Hastings’ representatives will prepare to enter the unknown as they have never raced on the international stage.
Thomson and Johnson have been there before, while Dowsett and Brooks have not.
Johnson will prepare to test herself against some of the world’s best for the first time since 2012 – the last time she did that was in New Zealand.
“It was an amazing experience,” Johnson said.
“The New Zealanders were cheering for the Aussies and that’s what I said to these guys, if they could qualify in Australia it’s something they’ll never forget.”
To earn their spot on the Gold Coast, athletes had to take their best race results and hope to finish in the top 20 in their respective age division.
“You had to do at least three races and they took your best points so whoever had the most amount of points qualified,” Johnson said.
“Greg and Zoe ended up doing four or five races and Zoe actually won a race in one of her races and Greg did amazing.
“I was lucky enough to only do two races and qualify.”
Johnson doubles as a personal trainer for her trio of teammates through the week in a schedule that usually extends for between 10-14 hours each week.
Training is half the battle while qualifying for the September 12-16 event was the toughest challenge.
“Qualifying is the hardest part; now it’s just a matter of enjoying the experience although we’ll all be stressed on race day,” Johnson said.
When asked what she was expecting at a location better known for its coastline and party lifestyle, Johnson said she didn’t know what to expect out on the course.
“You just don’t know how many people are coming from overseas,” she said.
“You have an idea of what Australian athletes are around your pace or faster or a bit slower, but then it depends on how many of these Europeans come over.
“They’re all strong riders, great runners so you don’t know if you’ll have these top athletes coming or not.”
Johnson anticipated the training they had completed would enable her fellow Port Macquarie trio to perform well.
“I think Zoe should go pretty well, but don’t want to put the pressure on her,” she said.
“She’s been training awesome and unfortunately Greg has had a few hiccups, but he’s as best prepared as he can be.
“He’s such a tough competitor on race day that he’ll do some amazing things anyway.
“Ian is the larrikin of the group, brings so much spirit and I think he’s improved heaps over the last five or six months so I think he’ll surprise himself.”
Johnson will compete in the 40-44 age division, Dowsett in the 45-49, Brooks in the 60-64 and Thomson 65-69.
Race day is Sunday.