Turner’s Super League hunt continues at pace
OLLIE TURNER’S dreams of joining the Super League Triathlon roster remain alive this week, following a nod of encouragement from leading figures within the million-dollar franchise.
The 19-year-old outclassed a number of world-ranked triathletes to claim seventh at the opening SLT qualifier in Poland earlier this summer, and as contracts for the 2018/19 championship series are sprinkled with gold dust the Islander has received high-profile support for a second crack at joining the professional ranks.
Turner will travel to Canada next week knowing he could be one of five men handed lucrative season-long deals at the final qualifier in Penticton – completing a 40-strong professional start list for the first full Super League series. A further ten wildcard spots will be handed out throughout the year.
The upcoming campaign – following a hugely successful trial season in 2017 – begins in Jersey on 29-30 September, with some of the world’s top triathletes again set to appear as they chase a share of $1.5million.
‘In Poland I completely exceeded my expectations, by a country mile,’ said sprint specialist Turner, who represented Jersey at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
‘I went there just trying to prove myself and expected to come in the bottom two, maybe even last, but I surprised myself coming away with seventh and managed to beat so many pros.
‘After that Chris McCormack [former world champion and Super League founder] said I should go to Penticton because I could qualify, and I thought “if they believe in me maybe I should look into it”.
‘When I looked at flights I thought it wasn’t going to happen because of the cost, but Macca said he’d help me out and Michael D’Hulst [SLT chief executive] said Super League would pay for my hotel and taxis.
‘From there, Fairway Group and SportsHub helped me out massively to find sponsorship, and it all came together in a week and a half.’
Assessing his chances of claiming a top-five finish, Turner said: ‘The World Triathlon Series is in Canada at the moment, so I’m guessing there will be a good showing, but my main aim is still to qualify. It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, but I was so close in Poznan [Poland qualifier] and it’s now an actual possibility.
‘It’s going to be a three-day stage, with a time-trial on the first day, then an Eliminator and Triple Mix. It’s going to be much harder so I’ve been doing specific training sessions. I’ve been doing hard sessions back to back every weekend for the last six weeks and I’ve also been working on my leg speed, because that was my biggest weakness in Poland.’
Jerseyman Dan Halksworth was given a wildcard entry for Super League Jersey in 2017, following a decade of international experience in swimming, triathlon and ironman. Turner, who finished 26th at Gold Coast 2018, appears better suited to the fast-paced, adapted version of the sport, but the teenager is not counting on any gifts.
‘Super League said they would consider me for a wildcard, but they’re not giving much away,’ he said.
‘They think I can do it and they want me to push to qualify outright.’