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Sweetland and Atkinson set to defend

Gomez pulls out of Mooloolaba.

Spain’s Javier Gomez, the world’s number two-ranked ITU athlete, has withdrawn from the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup race this Saturday March 27.

Gomez, who had an MRI and bone scans on his hip on Tuesday, regretted pulling out but did not have much of a choice.

“My doctor in Spain has told me not to race and rest for at least some days,” said Gomez on triathlon.org. “I’m really sorry not to be competing. This is the race that I really like and that’s why I wanted to start my racing season there like in 2007 (2nd place) and 2008 (1st place). I hope I come back next year.”

Gomez hopes to be ready for the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series kickoff on April 11th in Sydney, but that too may be in jeopardy.

For the home crowd, Australia’s Courtney Atkinson (the defending champion) may be able to compete after all. Earlier this week, reports stated that a stomach virus might keep Atkinson out of the race but he seems to have made a rebound.

“I’ll still not 100 percent, but I am feeling much better after being able to regain some weight,” Atkinson said. “There’s still a few more days to keep working on it and I am in the mindset that I will be racing.

Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland, the women’s defending champion, is glad to be back in Australia, and looks poised to have a strong performance.

“Mooloolaba is my favourite race in the world and to win last year on this course was such a surprise and such an honour. It’s nice going into this race as the defending champion, knowing I can perform on this course but I don’t feel any pressure at this time in the season,” said Sweetland on the race website. “I have built a lot of base this year which is something new to me. I am very strong but not yet into the speed portion on my training.