TRIATHLETE Jamie Huggett has an unorthodox plan to bid for a spot in next year’s Commonwealth Games team.
He is going to stay in Ballarat.
Huggett, still busy with the domestic season, plans to spend the winter training in his hometown while the world’s best battle it out in Europe.
This summer series – a tester in his plans – is working.
Huggett collected his latest title yesterday, the men’s crown in the Portarlington event.
The event doubles as race five in the Gatorade Triathlon Series, which he is leading. So he made the bold move to officially declare Ballarat his winter training base for his Glasgow qualifying campaign.
The 22-year-old will be in decorated company.
He has joined the Ballarat Project running squad led by Olympic runners Collis Birmingham and Ryan Gregson, world marathon runner Nathan Hartigan and the legendary Steve Moneghetti.
“It’s a different approach but I think I’ll hit the qualifying period – November, December and January – in form,” Huggett said.
“It’ll be a shorter spurt leading into the (domestic) season and I’m confident I will have a better shot at making the team.”
Huggett’s plan is not completely untested.
A fractured shoulder, from a cycle crash in the Triathlon de Paris, forced Huggett home in July 2011.
He spent four months recovering and last year had to take another three-month break when he was diagnosed anaemic.
Huggett focused on his running for three months leading into this summer’s Australian triathlon series.
He feels sharper, more prepared.
In his first professional race this season, Huggett claimed third in last month’s ITU Oceania Championships in Devonport.
Huggett has one more event in the Gatorade Triathlon Series, a series finale in St Kilda on April 7, and his form yesterday was strong.
He completed the swim, cycle and run in one hour, 19 minutes; two seconds ahead of Nathan Barry (1.20.25) and third-placed Kristian McCartney (1.23.23).
Huggett deliberately chose to contest Portarlington yesterday instead of a world cup clash in Mooloolaba, Queensland, sticking to his plan to stay close to home.
In a post-Olympic year, Huggett said the world cup event would draw a small field and he would prefer the hit-out Portarlington could offer.
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games are always in his mind, driving him, and he knows he has what it takes to make the cut.
Huggett was a shadow squad member of the Australian team ahead of Olympic qualifications and his performance in Devonport last month confirmed he can mix it with the best.
On reflection, Huggett says he was probably better off for not making the London Olympic team: he has more drive, more maturity, to build towards Rio 2016.