TRIATHLON: Emma Moffatt never really thought she could go to the Olympics, let alone be looking to qualify for her third Games.
Unlike millions of Aussie kids, Moree-born Moffatt did not dream about going to the largest sporting event on the planet.
Originally an Aussie surf club kid, Moffatt followed in the footsteps of her older siblings and at age 13 discovered triathlon, quickly finding success after only a few years in the sport.
At 16, Moffatt made the life changing decision to quit surf club and focus solely on triathlon.
It was a podium finish in one of her first World Cup events that made Moffatt realise her potential in the sport.
“That was the moment that I thought I would try to become a professional triathlete, but never even then did I think about the Olympics," she said.
In late April 2008, Moffatt got the call to say she had been selected in the Australian Olympic Team to compete at the Beijing Games.
“I was pretty ecstatic about that but had no idea what to expect in a race at Olympic Games.”
At only 23, everything about racing overseas and as a professional was new and exciting for Moffatt, but none as exhilarating as standing on the Olympic dais.
“It was pretty unexpected to walk away with the bronze medal.
“It was an amazing feeling and an awesome way to start out my first Olympics.”
A number of years of excellent results including back to back World Championships titles in 2009 and 2010 helped Moffatt secure her second appearance at the Games, gaining early selection into the London 2012 Australian Olympic team.
“I was able to focus the year before, knowing that I was already in the team.
“I set up my whole year up around going to London and racing there."
Despite ample preparation, Moffatt crashed on the first lap of the bike leg, a devastating end to her second Olympics.
“Unfortunately you can't really control what happens in races, there are so many different factors that come into play and the roads were slippery.
“I was pretty shocked and upset at the time, I didn't really know how that happened when I had trained so hard and done everything I thought I could to prepare for the race.
“I was racing for another podium.”
A devastated Moffatt then dismissed any inkling of retirement after the Games.
“Before London I thought if I achieve my goals I might call it my career and finish on a high.
“Half of me thought I was going to stop after London and then I crashed.
“I quickly reassessed what I wanted to do and realised that I didn't want to end my career on a crash at an Olympic Games.”
“I think having the crash has definitely had it's positives in that I’m still racing now,” said Moffatt.
She said she has been taking each year as it comes, slowly getting back to her fitness before London.
“I'm feeling fit already and still just really enjoying it and motivated which i think just makes the training that much easier.”
After finishing last year’s World Triathlon Series as Australia’s top ranked female, Moffatt will now turn her attention to qualifying for Rio, with what she hopes is a hometown advantage.
“The WTS race in April on the Gold Coast is one of the biggest races in the year for us because it’s an automatic qualifying spot for us for Rio.”
“It will be nice to not to have to pack the bike up and travel and change time zones and I think just to be able to stay at home is a real bonus. So hopefully I can take good advantage of that.”
If she qualifies for Rio, Moffatt hopes she can take the progress she made in 2015 and head into her third Games as ready as ever.
“I definitely take confidence in the fact that last year, I changed a few little things and saw some good results come from that so I feel like I'm on the right track.”
But the competition to secure a spot on the Australian Team will be fierce, with a number of Australian female triathletes in the running for xx spot.
“All the girls are very motivated and I definitely know there's a lot of hard work and fast racing that will need to be done to get on the team.”
Moffatt’s attitude towards the first South American Games, if she is selected, is to take the race as it comes. But she also isn’t ruling out a repeat performance of Beijing.
“I think that everyone that gets on the start line would love to podium, especially at an Olympics.
“It is an amazing feeling, if I am on the team I will be trying my best but a podium finish would be amazing.”
Australian triathletes had the opportunity to test the Rio course in August last year. Moffatt believes the course will test most athletes and whoever takes home the gold medal will have earnt it.
“The bike has a very nasty hill in it, which is good because people can’t sit in and hide the whole way, everyone going to have to be working hard to stay in the lead pack.
“The run will be hot so that will be another hard factor that comes into play but it’s going to be a challenging course. Whoever wins will truly be deserving,” said Moffatt.
The second round of the ITU World Triathlon Series is on April 9 this year Southport, QLD.
Under Triathlon Australia’s Olympic nomination criteria it is the final chance for triathletes to book an automatic nomination for the Games, with the first Australian athlete who finishes in the top 10 in either of the male or female races to be nominated by Triathlon Australia to the AOC.