Some of Australia’s best female triathletes will have a second chance to win a place at the Commonwealth Games this weekend, after former world champion Loretta Harrop announced her withdrawal from the Melbourne team because she’s pregnant.
The Athens silver medallist said she pulled out of the Games team because she and husband Brad Jones are expecting their first child in late August.
Harrop said she would be disappointed to miss out on the Games in her home country, but decided against going ahead after obtaining medical advice.
"I think for me there was always a point where I was going to miss a major race in order to start a family," Harrop said. "I'll be starting a new chapter in my life and I'll see what happens after that."
Harrop has competed at the past two Olympics and the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, and said she hoped to return to competition in time to represent Australia at the Beijing Olympics.
"I'm 30 years old now, which in Triathlon terms is definitely not over the hill," Harrop said. "The last two gold medalists at the Olympics have been 34 and 35 years old.
"You never know... I'd like to be back for Beijing and I'd like to take my own little fan club over there."
It should be an emotional year for Harrop's family as her sister Rebecca is also due to give birth to her second child.
Felicity Abram has been formally announced as the successful athlete to be selected for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Triathlon team. The Australian Commonwealth Games Association in conjunction with Triathlon Australia, named the AIS/QAS athlete as the successor to replace Olympic Silver Medallist Loretta Harrop who withdrew from the team last week following the announcement of her pregnancy.
Triathlon Australia's national performance director Bill Davoren said while the results of the Hobart race would be given full consideration, the selection of Harrop's replacement was at the discretion of a three-person selection panel.
"Most of our athletes will be competing this weekend and the seven potential reserves have been spoken to by the chairman of selectors about the process that will take place over the next few days and what they can expect," Davoren said.
Despite dominating the Triathlon in international competition, Australia has yet to claim an Olympic or Commonwealth gold in the event. The three men and three women will line be looking to change that when they take to the St Kilda Foreshore course for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games on Saturday 18 March.
Triathlon is free and non ticketed.