Jake Birtwhistle landed his first podium at an ITU World Series event finishing second in Hamburg, Germany on July 2nd. The result has catapulted him from 12th on the world ranking to fifth.
The race was his second outing on his Factor O2 bike after signing as a Factor Athlete earlier this month.
“I am really happy with the race today, I planned to come here and have a great race and I was not going to accept anything else. So I am happy to even just make it onto the podium it a pretty good achievement I think,” Jake said in a post-race interview.
Jake is as ambitious as they come. After snatching the U23 Triathlon World Championship title in 2015, he has his sights firmly set on racing against the best in the world leaving the U23 ranks behind him despite being eligible to compete in the category for another two years.
To put it simply, Jake doesn’t want to be the best U23 triathlete in the world; he aspires to be the best in the world. “It is an absolute honour to be the U23 World Champion, and that is something I will always have,” he said, “but now I have ticked that box and am ready to continue the progression into the elite ranks, despite being eligible to defend my title three more times.”
Prior to his podium finish, Jake told Factor Bikes he believes he is in a position where a podium finish in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Series is not far way, and he proved that in Hamburg, not only nabbing the silver medal but also the best performance an Australian male triathlete has had on the ITU World Series since 2011.
At just 21-years-old, Jake is stamping his authority in triathlon and was unlucky this year to miss out on selection to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio this year due to selectors discretion – Jake was on the short list but says it was a long shot that he would get selected at such a young age – Jake firmly has his sights set on the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018 and Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
Factor Bikes Co-Owner, Baden Cooke, was really excited to bring on board the young talent explaining: “The main thing is that he is a young, up and coming athlete. Winning the worlds last year sets him a part from the bunch and we see him as a huge potential to win at the Olympics next time round. He was unlucky not to get a start at these Olympics but we are hoping to go through to Tokyo to win a gold medal.”
With the Commonwealth Games still two years away, the selection criteria has not been released yet, but representing Australia on home soil is an opportunity no one wants to miss out on.
“I can imagine there will be three Australians on the start line on the Gold Coast in 2018. There will be some automatic qualifying opportunities and I plan on capitalizing at these events to remove any uncertainty. Anything can happen with selectors discretion, which I learnt the hard way so I wont be putting myself in this position again.”
Before he even hit the U23 ranks, Jake was an extremely decorated athlete throughout his teenage years having won 11 Australian championship gold medals running on the track between 15 and 18. He competed in his first triathlon at 12 years old and describes it as terrible, but he enjoyed it and continued swimming and cycling for cross training while competing as a middle distance runner.
Dabbling in the odd triathlon here and there, Jake won a silver medal at the national championships at just 13 years old but it wasn’t until he had finished high school that he made the decision to commit to triathlons fulltime. At 18, Jake moved away from his hometown of Launceston, Tasmania to be based with one of the world’s most strongest triathlon training squads.
“Ever since then, triathlon has been my job and I’ve spent the years travelling the world progressing through the ranks of the three tiers of Elite ITU triathlon. For two years now I have been competing at the highest level, the World Tri Series.”
During the European summer, Jake is based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain and will usually spend 3-4 months living in the northern hemisphere while the remainder of the year is spent in Australia. “It’s a perfect location to train, the riding and the running is some of the best I have ever experience and with access to numerous pools around the city and a lake just out of town it is hard to beat as a training base.” Up next for Jake is the World Triathlon Series Grand Final, in Cozumel, Mexico on September 18th.
“I will take a bit of time off after Cozumel but will get back into training soon after a quick refresh to get ready for some non-drafting races back in Australia.”
“The Nepean Triathlon, Noosa Triathlon and Hamilton Island Triathlon events, at this stage, will once again round out my year of racing.”
Jake is currently riding a Factor O2 but will also receive a Factor ONE. “For the more flat courses Jake will have a ONE and the for the tighter more technical circuits the O2 will suit him perfectly. Jake will also be one of the first people to have our new Factor time trial bike for the non-drafting events he will compete in,” explained Baden.
“We are a young up and coming brand and he is a young up and coming star.”