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Focused Royle begins race to Rio

HUNGRY: Aaron Royle will compete in the Oceania Sprint Cup starting in Wollongong on Saturday. Picture: Marina NeilAARON Royle will begin the road to Rio justmetres from his Wollongong base.
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Royle is ranked No.1 for the Oceania Sprint Cup starting at Belmore Basin, near his home,on Saturday.

It is the first step for the Newcastle-born athlete towards hisgoal of an Olympic medal inRio in August.

Having battled calf and foot injuries since October, Royle isconfident he can close the gap to Games favourites, British brothers, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee andSpanish duo Javier Gomez and Mario Mola.

A seventh-place finish in the world championships grand final in Chicago last year, where he only fell away over the final kilometre of the run leg,is encouragement enough.

“It showed where my strengths are and what I’ve needed to work on,” Roylesaid.

“That’s something we’ve really been targeting leading into Rio. If I can head into Rio in that sort of form or even a little better, the results should take care of themselves.”

However, Royle – alreadyqualified for Rio –is unsure of what Saturday’s race will bring, having not raced competitively since tearing his calfwinning the Nepean triathlon in October.

“First up for me can be a little hit and miss at times,” he said. “I have had a few little hiccups through the last couple of months, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Royle expects training partners Ryan Bailie andJake Birtwhistle to snare the other Australian placesfor Rio.

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