Sick Aaron Royle slams ITU on athlete welfare in Rotterdam

SETBACK: Aaron Royle is chasing a higher World Triathlon Series ranking in Saturday's grand final.

SETBACK: Aaron Royle is chasing a higher World Triathlon Series ranking in Saturday's grand final.

Aaron Royle has taken the International Triathlon Union to task after he missed a pre-race briefing in Rotterdam due to illness and was banished to the back of the starting pontoon.

Royle will compete in the World Triathlon Series Grand Final on Saturday but will do so with a handicap after a bout of gastroenteritis forced him to miss the briefing session on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Olympian took to Twitter to slam the ITU for ignoring athlete welfare as the nine-race world series reaches its climax.

Extremely contagious virus and they are happy for me to be sat in a room with 130 other athletes.

“Requested exemption from the ITU briefing session today as it is highly contagious,” he wrote. “ITU denied request and said that I will be penalised to the back of the pontoon if I missed briefing.

“Good job athletes interest at the forefront of their mind again. Extremely contagious virus and they are happy for me to be sat in a room with 130 other athletes (I’m not going to risk that by the way).”

Royle is fighting for a place on Australia’s team for the Commonwealth Games next year and is 18th on the world series standings, eight places behind automatic Games selection Jake Birtwhistle and one in front of under-23 Luke Willian.

Fellow Newcastle athlete Lorcan Redmond, the four-time all-schools national champion, is the youngest of Australia’s three-man team in the juniors race.

The Newcastle Grammar student has been training in the Basque country and competed with the national junior team at the British Mixed Relay Cup this month in Nottingham.

Olympic silver medallist Michellie Jones, 48, will contest an age group sprint and guide Rio Paralympic champion Katie Kelly.

Competitors will have to deal with rain, strong wind and 14-degree temperatures in the Dutch port city. 

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