In celebration of all the Felt athletes heading to Tokyo this summer for the world’s biggest sporting competition, we’re helping race fans get to know them and their unique stories. Ashleigh Gentle is a pro triathlete who has had some incredible racing successes throughout her career. Among other accolades, the Australian star has won gold medals at the ITU World Championship and Commonwealth Games, and has won the famed Noosa Triathlon a staggering seven times. Back in 2016, she also represented her home nation at that year’s global sporting event in Rio, Brazil. This year, she’s had her focus on a top result in Tokyo. Read on to learn more about Ashleigh Gentle!
FELT: Growing up, did you always dream of competing in an event like the upcoming competition in Tokyo?
Ashleigh: When I was young, I played a lot of team sports and really enjoyed being outside with my brothers and friends. I don’t think I dreamed of going to an event like Tokyo, as I don’t think I ever realized that it was something that I could do. Although I always surprise myself when I find things from when I was a child. I recently found one of my school journals from when I was 11 years old, and I had written down my favorite sports and said that I wished that I could be successful in one of those hobbies. I remember being competitive, but I think I had more ambition than I realized!
FELT: Tokyo won’t be your first time competing at the world’s biggest sporting competition. Tell us about your past experience in Rio, Brazil in 2016.
Ashleigh: I was still fairly young, but I had had some good results that year and started off 2016 strong with two silver medals at the first two World Triathlon Series races. I was extremely excited to make the team. The lead up wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I had another strong race a few weeks before Rio at the Montreal World Cup. I had some travel nightmares from that point. We had a difficult time leaving Montreal to get back to my training base in America, and a couple of weeks later when I got to Rio, my bags and bike didn’t arrive for days! When my gear was finally located and delivered, my bike was damaged after being mishandled. Despite the stress, I think I handled the situation as best I could at the time and I really learned so much from the whole experience.
FELT: What are your goals for Tokyo, and what would a successful competition be for you?
Ashleigh: I have always said to myself that if I can walk away from the Tokyo competition knowing I did everything I could to get the best out of myself on the day, I will be happy. Preparations can never be perfect, and there are always things that won’t go to plan, but it’s how I react to that which will determine my success. So a medal won’t completely define my success, but I think I am capable of earning one.
FELT: Tell us about your training plan leading up to the competition in Tokyo.
Ashleigh: I had a couple of great camps in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport, and then spent the majority of time at home in Brisbane, with a quick camp to Cairns. I raced the Australian Olympic-distance championships in Mooloolaba and the mixed relay race four days later. It was a “dry run” for Tokyo, as it was the same timing between the individual and mixed relay race. I was hoping to do the Yokohama World Series race, but amongst a few other reasons, traveling there and back was difficult. There were no good flight options to return, and a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine was still in place in Australia, so I would have missed about two and a half weeks of training. I already had an early nomination for the Australian team going to Tokyo, so I decided not to go. Everyone has had such a unique journey leading up to this competition, that is for sure.
FELT: Is there anything else you want your fans to know about you and your quest for glory in Tokyo?
Ashleigh: I don’t know what I will do post-Tokyo, but I feel like I have a second wind in my career and I’m excited for the future.
FELT: Tell us about your new Felt AR—which features a custom paint scheme designed by Bob Thomson, Felt’s creative director. Bob notes, “It features a chameleon, dark green and gold paint, inspired by the iconic Australian national team colors, which changes hue depending on which direction you are looking at it.” Will it be your race machine for Tokyo?
Ashleigh: I absolutely love my new Felt AR. It has always been my favorite frame, and I think it’s perfect for the course in Tokyo. I feel really lucky that Felt has always done custom paint for special occasions, and I was not disappointed when I saw the Tokyo frame. I put total trust in the team to create something special, and it's better than I could have hoped for. The sparkly green with my name and Australian flag makes it truly unique. I’ll hold on to it for the rest of my life.
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