CAMPERDOWN triathlete Kurt McDonald will make the biggest leap of his career today when he jets out for an extended stay in North America.
The 20 year-old leaves Melbourne bound for Asheville, North Carolina which will be his base for the next three months.
McDonald is set to take part in the Triathlon Gold program under invitation from its Australian mentor Jarrod Evans.
Evans, who was the head coach of the USA men’s triathlon team at the Rio Olympics, is also the former coach of Kurt’s father, Deiter, who competed in numerous Ironman and triathlon events for the best part of a decade.
McDonald will live close by to the University of North Carolina (UNC) Asheville Campus, where he is set to join up with some familiar faces.
He will live in shared accommodation with two American training partners from the Triathlon Gold program who he has met previously when they visited Australian shores for a training camp earlier this year.
“I know the two boys I’ll be living with so hopefully that makes the transition that little bit easier,” McDonald said.
“Everyone is new to the area there as well, the whole team have only moved to Asheville from their base in San Diego three weeks ago.
“There’ll be about 10 of us training together and we have full access to all the sporting facilities that we need on campus at UNC like the pools, gyms and tracks.”
Despite being based in the south east of the United States, the majority of his racing will take place north of the American border.
McDonald will train in Asheville for seven weeks before moving to Canada for a three week period.
“There’s three races in three weeks in Canada which will be my first big hit-outs,” McDonald said.
“After that I’ll head back to Asheville before returning to Canada for a two-day Super League race weekend in Ottawa in early August.”
McDonald said the main goal of this trip is to build his world ranking points throughout the off-season Down Under.
“Essentially this time of year the racing season is over in Australia, so in order to gain world ranking points you need to compete overseas,” he said.
“A lot of athletes go to Europe, but for me this was the best path to take.
“North America is a good location.”
McDonald hopes to gain as many world ranking points as possible from the Continental Cup events - which are the base level of professional triathlon racing.
“If I go well I can progress to the next level of competition later in the year,” he said.
“I’ll just be taking it a day at a time, but ultimately the goal is World Cup racing, which can then qualify you for Commonwealth and Olympic games.”
Start lists for each of the events are released one month out from the race, and McDonald expects to face stiff competition.
“Being in the lead-up to an Olympic year there will be pretty heavy start lists all over the world,” he said.
“I chose America through having the connection with Jarrod and should be competing against plenty of the world’s top triathletes.”