Newcastle triathlete Aaron Royle is waiting to learn if he has been selected for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

PROVEN PERFORMER: Newcastle triathlete Aaron Royle is waiting to learn if he has been selected for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE’S Aaron Royle is preparing for his first half-ironman event as he waits to learn if he has been chosen in the n triathlon team for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
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BIG FINISH: Aaron Royle has four races left in 2017, including a half-ironman.

Unlike for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Rio Olympics, Royle has been unable to secure automatic qualification.

After a year interrupted by injury and illness, he is now at the mercy of selectors’ discretion but hopesthey will offer him one of the two remaining spots on the n team.

SETBACKS: Injury and illness has interrupted Aaron Royle’s 2017 campaign.

In the meantime, he plans to finish2017 on a positive note by performing well in three lucrative season-ending events, the Nepean, Noosa and Island House (Bahamas) Triathlon, before the Western Sydney Ironman on November 26.

He has won the Nepean three times, Noosa twice and last year finished third at the Island House, collecting the biggest pay cheque ($40,000) of his career.

He said the half-ironman at Penrith would be a step towards a long-time ambition, competing in the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman.

“It’s a 1.9km swim, a 90-km bike ride and you finish with a half-marathon run, so 21.1kms,” he said.

“Which scares the hell out of me, just mentioning how far it actually is. It’s going to be quite painful, but I’ve been wanting to do one for a little while now and it’s just none have ever seemed to fit in with my season.”

A standard Olympic-length triathlon is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10 kilometre run. The Hawaiian Ironman comprises a3.86km, 180.25kmride and fullmarathon (42.2km) run.

“The Hawaiian Ironmanhas always been appealing to me,” he said. “There’s options for the longer stuff for me, but I still think I have a few years left in me doing the Olympic version of the sport.

“I still think that Tokyo [2020] is a realistic goal. It’s tough after a year when you don’t go as well as you think you’re capable of.

“You question yourself a little bit, but I still think I have the ability to go to Tokyo and perform better than I did in Rio [when he finished ninth].”

In the lead-up to Glasgow and Rio, Royle automatically qualified almost a year ahead of both events, which allowed him to focus solely on his preparation.

For Gold Coast, he hopes selectors take into account his performances over the past five years, rather than a 2017 campaign hindered by a torn plantar fasciitis and then a bout of gastroenteritis before the last race on the world-series circuit, in Rotterdam.

“It’s in the selectors’ hands, and there are no more races for them to look at for selection,” he said.

“So it’s basically out of my control now. Whatever happens, happens. I can’t do anything about it and I just have to wait and see what they decide.”

The 27-year-old from Maryland has taken this year’s setbacks in his stride.

“If you’re ever going to have a down year, I guess the year after the Olympics is the best time to do it,” he said.

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Muscat attacks tall poppy culture, Victory signs new striker

The speculation surrounding Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroo future has spawned myriad conspiracy theories this week, but Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat believes there may be a simple explanation: ‘s tendency to cut what some people believe to be tall poppies down to size.
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The Melbourne Victory boss fended off questions about whether he was interested in succeeding his former club coach in the national-team job and instead questioned the critical culture of some in the game.

“I’m not going to speak for Ange, I think we’ve probably forgotten that we won the game 2-1,” Muscat said.

“Maybe, if I’ve got anything to say, we’ve got a great deal of enjoyment about trying to knock someone down, and failure, than we do from actually winning.”

The Victory boss, a former Socceroo captain and experienced international, has been touted (along with Sydney coach Graham Arnold) as a possible replacement for Postecoglou.

But he was keeping a straight bat when asked about his ambitions.

“At the moment, there’s no job to put the hat in the ring for,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of hysteria (but) I’ve got a great job here in Melbourne Victory, one I thoroughly enjoy and love.

“We’ve got a couple more games to be successful in and to get to another World Cup and we’re on track to do that.

“I’m on record previously, representing your country was the pinnacle of my career and hopefully one day I do get the opportunity. (But) at this point in time, I’m contracted and very happy.”

Victory announced on Friday that it had signed the prolific NPL striker Kenjok Athiu on a season-long loan deal from his club Heidelberg, the Victorian champions.

The lanky frontman, known as Kenny, is mobile and good on the ground as well as in the air and would certainly offer Victory a point of difference.

The 24-yea-old has scored 57 goals in 92 appearances over three years with the Bergers, having come to as an 11-year-old refugee from Sudan.

“He provides a huge physical presence, but is also really quick across the ground and is good with the ball at his feet – just what you want from a striker.”

“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a big step up for him moving into the professional ranks, but we couldn’t ask for him to have a better mentor than Besart Berisha, who I’m sure will take him under his wing,” Muscat said.

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Why The Everest will turn into one of the world’s biggest races

I’m convinced The Everest will become one of the most significant races on the world racing calendar within a few years.
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It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be riding in the days leading up to a $10 million race, but I think the race will turn into one of the biggest initiatives in n racing since the invention of the TAB.

It goes without saying the prizemoney is astronomical and probably a large part of why the race has created so much interest.

I wouldn’t say I was skeptical about The Everest when the race was first announced, but probably more surprised. I didn’t know how it was going to work and didn’t give it much thought.

But I reckon there’s a few people who thought forking out $1.8 million for a three-year commitment wasn’t a good investment are wishing they did so now.

The real question was whether it was going to be sustainable. Without a doubt you would have to say it will be given the interest in the race so far and we haven’t even run the first edition yet.

It’s so interesting and I’ve loved watching slot-holders jockey for position to secure horses over the last six to eight weeks, just like jockeys who wrangle for rides in the lead-up to big events.

And I can only see international horses being set for the race in the future once they get a better understanding of what it’s about.

I really see a future for the race with so many big players involved as well as the syndicates of owners, such as Redzel and She Will Reign, who have had their horses picked up to run in the race.

Speaking of those two, I see them among the main threats to my mount Clearly Innocent winning The Everest at Randwick on Saturday.

I can’t say I was confident a few weeks ago about getting a ride in the race, but I’ve been getting a good feel for Clearly Innocent who is a horse I’ve ridden in the past and have so much time for.

I was actually offered the ride on Chautauqua a while ago and couldn’t make a firm commitment by the time they wanted one and was in the mix for English when Blake Shinn was suspended before he had his penalty quashed on appeal.

But by that time I was really warming to Clearly Innocent who just needed to run well in the Premiere Stakes to get picked up by Damion Flower.

I really think he’s a genuine winning chance and I’m not just saying that because I’m riding him. I don’t want to say he’s a better ride than English or one or two others, but he really has a bright future.

The dangers? I’ve got them down to three: Chautauqua, Vega Magic and She Will Reign.

Let me say this about Chautauqua, he is clearly the best horse in the race but if the track plays like it has for his last two starts then I don’t think he can win. Conditions are vital for him.

If they are similar to when he ran in The Shorts or the Premiere Stakes when the horses on top of the speed were running blistering times then he’s out of play I reckon. Sectionally its impossible for him to do what he needs to do and I want to see how the track’s playing leading up to The Everest.

Vega Magic and She Will Reign, in my opinion, are the other top picks and I have a healthy respect for Redzel, who I have won on in the past, and English.

What will I do if I manage to win the race? Well, I’ve just signed on as an ambassador for Mercedes Benz Parramatta and I wouldn’t mind seeing the latest wheels they’ve rolled onto their showroom floor.

But I’m just proud to have a ride in the inaugural running of The Everest, which I think will be here for a very, very long time.

Hugh Bowman will write a weekly column for Fairfax Media throughout the spring carnival.

For more information on The Everest go to theRaces成都夜总会招聘.au.

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Muscat weighs up Milligan fatigue as Victory welcome back internationals

Will Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat gamble on the fitness of skipper Mark Milligan or give an A-League debut to Argentinian import Mathias Sanchez when the navy blues host cross-town rivals Melbourne City in the first of this season’s Victorian derbies?
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Muscat was coy about the prospects of his captain starting after Milligan played a gruelling 120 minutes for the national team in that heart-stopping 2-1 win over Syria on Tuesday night. The national team captain also played a stamina-sapping 90 minutes in Malaysia four days earlier in the first of the two World Cup qualifiers.

But he is certain to bring in another Socceroo, forward James Troisi, and the NZ international Kosta Barbarouses.

All three missed last weekend’s round one loss to Sydney as they were away on international duty with and the All Whites.

If Milligan plays, he will be in midfield, Muscat said. If he doesn’t then it is likely Sanchez, who was an injury absentee last week, will be given the chance to start.

“Mathias Sanchez was very close last week and no risks were taken,” Muscat said.

“We have a full complement, the last couple of days we have had everyone back in training. It’s been a nice bright and sharp few days.

“Millsy played the whole game [against Syria] so we will have to integrate him a little bit differently. Jimmy [Troisi] has been really sharp.Kosta got back Sunday morning, so he has had the full week under his belt.

“Mathias has trained the whole week so, of course, it’s a boost … [we are] still assessing the recovery, especially Millsy. He played 90 minutes away in the first game in Malaysia as well. We will sleep on it and assess him again in the morning. If he is fine and is going to start he will play midfield.”

Muscat was excited by the debut of Leroy George, who was clearly not at peak fitness. The Dutchman showed plenty of good signs against Sydney and will be better for the outing.

“We have had to throw him in when he was underdone and for periods in the first half, the glimpses of what we could see, the ability he has and what is to come [was exciting]. We had to look after him at the start of the week, but he has come through without any issues whatsoever.

“There’s good competition for places now, it’s what everyone wants. Competition breeds desperation and performances. If you slip below that you run the risk of not playing. We have got some depth in that area.”

Muscat was not worried about Troisi getting abuse from City fans after he changed his mind at the last second in the off-season and signed for Victory, having indicated he would join City. And the Victory boss expected City’s Socceroo hero Tim Cahill would also cop stick from Victory fans despite his heroics in ‘s colours earlier in the week.

“I would be disappointed if he didn’t cop his fair share of abuse from opposition fans,” he said of Troisi. “Maybe we are not exposed to that sort of stuff regularly in . Timmy is probably expecting it as well.

“As an n, we are grateful he popped up with two goals, but hopefully he has spent all his goals this week.”

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After year learning on the job, Handscomb sets sights on Ashes

Peter Handscomb leans against the brick wall at the side of the tiny grandstand at Hurstville Oval, a well-earned stubby in hand. He’s just peeled off an effortless century in the JLT Cup, picking up where he left off for in the Test arena last summer.
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After a first year abroad with the national side that has taken him to India, Bangladesh and back to India, and in between a stint alongside England captain Joe Root at Yorkshire, he admits it’s good to be home, or close enough to it.

It was up the M5 at the SCG last November where he and Nic Maddinson were told by national selector Mark Waugh they would be making their Test debuts and promptly handed Cricket polo shirts to appear before the television cameras in front of the Ladies Stand. Handscomb had just scored a double century against a full-strength NSW, exquisitely timed in all senses with in meltdown after a disastrous defeat to South Africa in Hobart and searching for reinforcements.

Nine months after the breakout first international summer that followed he is a fixture in Smith’s top five, his emergence well documented. We’ve all heard about his past as a top junior tennis player, his English parents and British passport, and we’ve seen that so-called homespun technique.

Handscomb himself is intent on adding more memorable performances to the profile. There’s been a few already. After he charged through the nervous 90s to his maiden Test hundred against Pakistan at the Gabba we then got to see him dig in courageously in Ranchi, saving a Test in India alongside Shaun Marsh to ensure a live series finale.

Now, further emboldened after spending his travels playing with and against the world’s best, he feels ready for whatever England has in store for him in the Ashes.

“I was lucky enough to play with Root, I played against [Virat]Kohli, I played against [Kane] Williamson, I played with Smith,” Handscomb says.

“There’s the top four batters in the world. You can pick up little things from each of them. If you try and emulate them then you’re on the right path I reckon.

“It’s great to see that those four all bat completely differently, which is a nice feeling because it just means there is no such thing as the ‘right’ technique anymore. It’s the right technique for yourself and as long as you find that and back that then you can go a long way.”

If Smith has done just that with remarkable success, Handscomb is on the way.

He’s well aware, though, that he enters the marquee series against England viewed somewhat differently from the newcomer who was welcomed to a new-look side in Adelaide last year. Averaging almost 100 in your first Test summer will do that. Having introduced himself as the trustworthy buffer between Smith and the middle and lower order, the bar has naturally been set higher.

“I was quite lucky last year … I was coming in off the back of big change in n cricket and it was almost as if even if I did fail it wasn’t going to be that bad. I was going to be given that opportunity,” Handscomb says.

“So mentally that can help your game. This year I’ve got my own expectations in terms of what I want to do and how I want to take the Ashes. But ultimately I can’t think about that too much.”

The newly installed Victoria captain comes off as unaffected by the pace of his rise in the last year. He approaches the game meticulously and with the wisdom of a player older than his 26 years and with more experience than his 10 Tests. Were Smith not only two years older and with the best part of a decade potentially in front of him you would almost say Handscomb has future n captain written all over him. For now and the foreseeable future, though, selectors simply want him to make runs.

“I think I’ve definitely grown again as a player,” he says. “That comes with just playing more cricket with better guys and against better guys.

“I had expectation when I went to Yorkshire as well. You’re the overseas pro so you’ve got to make runs. You put that pressure onto yourself and hopefully grow as a player.

“You get used to really tough swinging and seaming conditions in England and then you get really spinning conditions in India. So to come here, I’ve got my base structure for fast and bouncy wickets. If it starts seaming I’ve now got a plan; if it starts spinning I’ve got another plan.”

A key part of ‘s plans for the Ashes, Handscomb can’t wait for the first Test at the Gabba in the last week of November but is determined not to get too wound up in the hype of it all. For him the build-up began months ago with banter between a couple of looming England opponents. Root and Jonny Bairstow were among his teammates in the County Championship and the odd friendly barb was exchanged.

That was well before Ben Stokes went berserk in a Bristol street, of course. Lately, Ashes talk has become no laughing matter for England. The plan is for it to stay that way.

“I can’t wait for the Ashes,” Handscomb says. “I think it’s going to be awesome fun. I’m just excited for it. I’m not too worried about performances. I think once you start worrying about all that you can get stuck in your head a little bit.

“As long as I can go out there with a clear mind and understand my game plan and all that I’ll just try and enjoy the experience for what it is. It’s Ashes cricket … it’s pretty bloody good.”

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