Australian triathlon star Melissa Hauschildt could make her much-anticipated debut at the Hawaiian Ironman later this year.
The Commonwealth Games middle-distance run medallist has been outstanding since switching to long-course triathlon in 2010.
The two big questions in the sport surrounding Hauschildt have been when would she attempt an Ironman-distance race and what were her plans for the Hawaiian Ironman world championships at Kona.
Hauschildt has answered the first, announcing she will make her Ironman debut on May 4 in the Australian championships at the NSW town of Port Macquarie.
Depending on how she performs next month, Hauschildt could step up to Kona in October.
Hauschildt said her main goal this will probably still be the defence of her Ironman 70.3 (half-Ironman distance) world title on September 7 in Canada.
But Kona – triathlon’s most famous race – is looming on her radar.
“If I can get through this Ironman it will at least give me the opportunity to make my own decision later in the year between ITU long course world champs or Ironman world champs,” she said.
“I just want to validate early, just in case I choose to go down the Kona path this year.”
Hauschildt will need to gain qualifying points at Port Macquarie to validate a potential start at Hawaii.
She is also the defending ITU (International Triathlon Union) long course world champion.
Injuries two years ago delayed Hauschildt’s move up to the Ironman format, which is a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km marathon run.
Last month, the 31-year-old scored a hard-fought win at the Abu Dhabi long-course race – a 3km swim, 200km cycle and 20km run.
“The timing has worked out well and it’s the closest Ironman to home,” Hauschildt said of Port Macquarie.
“This time of year I can hopefully carry through some of the fitness I had from Abu Dhabi, with its longer swim and bike.
“I will also be able to take plenty of time to recover well after the race without affecting my US season later on in the year.
Her main opposition on May 4 is likely to come from American Hillary Biscay.
Australian Luke Bell has recovered from knee surgery to lead the men’s field at Port Macquarie.