Short-course triathlon star Hayden Wilde is set to step up in distance next month, with the Olympic bronze medalist on the start list for IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne on November 12.
Wilde, who is ranked World Triathlon #3 and finished the 2023 WTCS season in second place, raced last weekend at the Super League Triathlon Championship Series in NEOM, where he lost his title in a close battle with Frenchman Leo Bergere.
The 26 year old, who last raced a middle-distance event at IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo in 2019 but was also a wildcard for the PTO Collins Cup last season, might have half an eye on one of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slots in Melbourne.
Can Wilde end season on a high?
Despite plenty of success throughout the season, Wilde was forced to withdraw from arguably the most important race of the season at the Paris Test Event and lost out to two Frenchmen, Dorian Coninx and Bergere, in battles for the overall series title at both the WTCS and SLT Championship Series.
Before finishing his season then, the race in Melbourne offers Wilde a chance to finish the year on a high, with a win not only rewarded with a slice of the prize purse but also a ticket to the 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, which will be held in New Zealand next December.
Home game for Hayden?
Perfectly placed four months after the Paris Olympics, a shot at the IRONMAN 70.3 World title on home turf will be an enticing opportunity for Wilde, who is yet to win a triathlon world championship title after picking up multiple XTERRA and cross triathlon titles earlier in his career.
In Melbourne, Wilde will face a tough field, including Australian Steve McKenna, who has made himself exceptionally hard to beat on home soil in recent seasons. Add in the likes of Charlie Quin, Matt Burton and Nicholas Free and this could be a race that proves very hard to call.