University of Stirling Mathematics student Marc Austin will head down under next month after qualifying for his second successive ITU World Junior Triathlon Championships.
The 18-year-old from Scotstoun booked his place in the two-man GE Great Britain triathlon team to race in New Zealand following a podium finish in Portugal at the weekend.
Austin finished just five second behind fellow Brit Gordon Benson in the blazing Aveiro sun, completing the consecutive 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run in 56 minutes and 51 seconds.
He will now join Benson for the junior – age 17 to 19 – finals, to be held in Auckland on 20 and 21 October. It will be Austin’s second experience of this level of competition, having made the 2011 Championships in Beijing.
“I came back from China feeling I could have done a bit better so I’m really looking forward to having another shot.” said Austin, who is both a University sports scholar and supported by national scholarships Winning Students.
“I have improved a lot since then, I’m in good shape and I feel I’m capable of a top ten finish. China was one race too many at the end of the season whereas this year I’ve rested better during the season and all my training is building up to this.”
Austin trains with the triathlonscotland national development squad - which includes a further seven Stirling students - training together on campus at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
In China, the British squad included London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Alastair Brownlee and his bronze medal-winning brother Jonathan, who were there to compete in the World Triathlon Series Grand Final.
And having also been in the grandstand cheering them across the finish line in Hyde Park, Austin has had plenty opportunity to pick up some tips.
He added: “It was inspiring to watch them and it spurs all British triathletes on to follow in their footsteps. They are so focused and if they are nervous before a race, it certainly doesn’t show.
“I want to finish my junior career next season on a high so I am full of confidence and can put my name forward for selection for Glasgow 2014. Next year the World Junior Championships are in London so to medal there would be fantastic.”
In Portugal, another two Mathematics students, Grant Sheldon and Cameron Milne, were eighth and 22nd respectively.
Blair Cartmell, University Triathlon Coach, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Marc as it was a very hard team to make with only two slots available. He had the pressure of having to perform exceptionally well during the selection race and he did so in very hot conditions. Marc has been incredibly consistent all year and this is his just reward.”
Stirling Accountancy graduate David McNamee will also be competing in Auckland in the men’s senior event. McNamee, originally from Irvine, is currently sitting 24th in the overall World Triathlon Series rankings and enjoyed a top 10 finish in Kitzbuehel.
Winning Students is Scotland’s national sports scholarship programme for student athletes. Managed by the University of Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and funded by the Scottish Funding Council, more than 100 high performance student athletes in member colleges and universities across the country are supported with scholarships of up to £5,500 each year. For more information, visit: www.winningstudents-scotland.ac.uk
International Sports Scholarship programme
The University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme provides a twin track approach, allowing talented young athletes to combine their education with high performance sports success. In 2011-12, the programme supported 100 athletes across five sports and the 2012/13 recipients will be announced shortly. For more information, visit www.sportingexcellence.stir.ac.uk/scholarships