Noosa Tri legend backs Gentle to join him in record books
TRIATHLON: The 'King of Noosa' expects Ashleigh Gentle to join him in the Noosa Triathlon history books with a record sixth victory this Sunday.
And Noosa Triathlon legend Craig Walton says former protégé Gentle will keep finding herself on the top of the medal dais, all the way through to the Tokyo Olympics.
Walton - who turned his hand to triathlon coaching after his stellar racing career - was unstoppable around Noosa winning the prestigious event in 1997, 2002-04 and 2006-07.
Rio Olympian and Commonwealth Games team gold medallist Gentle is gunning for her fifth-straight win in Noosa and her sixth triumph overall after her breakthrough victory in 2012.
Walton said the sky was the limit for Gentle.
"She is Olympic Games gold medal material,” Walton said.
"She is very close to pretty much winning every race she enters. Next season you'll see her in first place on the podium nearly every race - and on a world level too.
"She is our biggest and best medal hope for Australia at the big races.
"Everyone knew how good Ash was even as a young triathlete coming through. She was always on the radar and I'm not surprised by how far she has come and I won't be surprised by how far she will go in the future.''
Walton said Gentle's reign of dominance at Noosa was a tribute to her all-round skills.
"She is not just a runner. Sometimes in our sport at the moment, you can get away with just being good at the swim-run combination,'' he said.
"It's a hard race. It's not an easy race on the calendar. You earn your wins there.
"Her success at Noosa shows her talent. She can put the three legs together and come away with what will hopefully be six wins.
"I don't doubt she'll do it either.''