Gentle reaches new heights in quest for gold
ASHLEIGH Gentle is leaving no stone unturned in her bid for a medal at a home Commonwealth Games, honing her preparations with a stint in altitude next month.
Gentle finished second in the World Triathlon Series this season and is among the favourites in the women's triathlon, the first medal event of next April's Gold Coast Games.
The 26-year-old rounded out a long year of racing at the Island House triathlon in the Bahamas last month, a fortnight after racking up a fifth win in the iconic Noosa race.
The Gold Coast product enjoyed a short break but will be back into work quickly, heading into camp with other members of coach Jamie Turner's squad briefly this month before an altitude camp in January that could provide the edge she needs for the Games.
"We've got a really brief camp in December in Canberra, that's mainly a skills-based camp but a good opportunity to get back with the squad, with Jamie and touch base," Gentle said.
"And then we'll have another altitude camp in Canberra in January."
Gentle has had little exposure to altitude in the past but believes a stint in the Australian Institute of Sport's "altitude house" in Canberra, will help give her training an edge in the lead-up to the Gold Coast Games.
The facility simulates an altitude of about 3000m above sea level, with athletes spending 14 hours or more inside each day to get the full benefit from having to work harder to breathe the reduced amount of oxygen in the air.
The other hours of the day are spent outside in normal training conditions.
"It's a really good opportunity, I guess, just to expose ourselves to that," said Gentle, who will share the facility with other members of Turner's normally Wollongong-based squad, including Games teammate Charlotte McShane and Gold Coaster Matt Hauser, who will join the group for the three-week stint.
"Being at the AIS in the house, it's really controlled and we have dietitians and sports scientists and people there to help us if it's not for us and really monitor us," Gentle said.
"If it's something I really respond to, it's something we might explore a lot more in the future."
While altitude training usually gives athletes the greatest boost for around a month afterwards, Gentle said her response to next month's stint would determine whether she used the technique again closer to the Games.
"I'm not really sure of the plans but maybe (my response will determine whether) I'll go into an altitude tent in March or something, I'm not too sure," she said.
"I've had a little bit of an exposure and I responded fairly well to it, so I think being in the house and having more of an exposure will be a good thing."
World Triathlon Series winner, Bermuda's Flora Duffy, will head to the Gold Coast as an overwhelming gold-medal favourite for the triathlon, just ahead of Gentle.
And while science will play its part, it's bolstered self-confidence that is likely to be the key for the Gold Coaster next April.
"I feel as though I've surrounded myself with the right people this year," Gentle said.
"I've got a great coach in Jamie Turner, a really amazing training squad, I've made sure that I've stayed consistent in my running and reduced the possibility of getting injured and I think that has led to some great results.
"And I'm maybe starting to believe in myself a little bit more, which does help a lot."