Gentle accepts tough triathlon year 'hate'

Olympic hopeful and defending champion Ashleigh Gentle is eyeing a record 7th Noosa Triathlon title.
Olympic hopeful and defending champion Ashleigh Gentle is eyeing a record 7th Noosa Triathlon title.

Olympic medal hopeful Ashleigh Gentle has emerged from a season she admits she had occasionally hated, ready to make history in Noosa before charting her path to Tokyo.

Australia's highest-ranked female triathlete will likely lead the charge next year in Japan, where a new mixed teams event will offer a double shot at a medal.

She can make her mark on the Sunshine Coast first, though, with a seventh Noosa Triathlon title on Sunday eclipsing former coach Craig Walton's haul of six.

It would also be a sixth-straight title for the Brisbane-based talent in the second-last race of a tumultuous season before preparations begin for Tokyo.

The sudden mid-year axing of coach Jamie Turner by Triathlon Australia rocked Gentle's world series campaign, while she said below-par performances had also tested her resolve.

"I had to respond to challenges out of my control; mentally, it can be hard and there's been times where I've pretty much hated what I was doing," she told AAP.

"You come to learn it's part of elite sport and you've got to deal with them.

"It can go to complete s**t, so you need to be able to think of a plan B."

That's something she hasn't needed in Noosa, despite worthy competition from fellow Tokyo aspirant Natalie van Coevorden and Radka Kahlefeldt.

Gentle is confident, however.

"I'm in good shape and, despite some really big plateaus and lack of motivation (this year), I'm coming good," she said.

"It's a good feeling."

Three-time men's champion Aaron Royle has raced in Malta and Japan in the past fortnight before arriving to defend his title.

There are no excuses, he says, as he attempts to ward off challenges from Australia's top-ranked male triathlete Jake Birtwhistle and South Africa's Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman.

Australian Associated Press