Setbacks prime Royle to hit peak in Rio
TRIATHLON: A calf tear, a foot injury and a dose of swine flu are not usually classified as ideal Olympics preparation.
But triathlete Aaron Royle believes his performances under trying conditions at least demonstrate what he could be capable of this year in Rio.
It's been a self-described "weird year" for Australia's first triathlon qualifier.
It all started in March when the 25-year-old contracted swine flu in Abu Dhabi.
"I didn't even know that was still going around ... I was in bed for a good 10 days, but then it just took forever before I started to feel good," Royle told AAP.
"Then swine flue ran into peroneal tendonitis (in the foot) into June.
"So it wasn't until after that injury when I was then back doing some training that I finally started to feel all right."
Royle's foot healed in the nick of time to contest August's Rio test event and book a berth in Rio thanks to his sixth-place finish.
Still underdone, he played it safe on the run leg, aiming only for the required top-10 finish.
But just when he started to hit his straps again and was gearing up to defend his Noosa Triathlon title and compete in a rich Bahamas invitational race in November, Royle tore his calf.
He has been back training for a few weeks and is all good on the swimming and cycling front, but taking a conservative approach with running.
A mixture of walking and running is still the order of the training day, along with painstaking hours in the gym building strength in weaker areas to ensure he doesn't encounter this situation during his first Olympics.
Despite the laborious road, Royle is keeping the bigger goals firmly front of mind.
"When those sorts of things happened earlier on in the year, the only thing I cared about was qualifying for the Olympics." he said.
"So whilst I was disappointed and annoyed to do my calf, I was also like `Okay, at least my body held up for the one thing I really cared about'."
The other favourable factor is that the setbacks mean Royle is still yet to hit his peak, and with no qualification pressure has the luxury of time to find it before heading to Brazil.
"I've been knocking on the door of a podium, so it's given me the confidence that I can compete with these (top) guys," he said.
"Now I just need to make sure this injury is fine so that I can get the training done to push even further towards the podium in Rio.
"It showed me what I was capable of after getting some good solid work done, so I know that if I can stay injury-free and get the work done then it's possible."
Australia's other Olympic triathlon hopefuls will have a final chance to gain automatic Rio qualification on the Gold Coast in April.