Nanjing Night Net

WINNER: Aaron Royle.

NEWCASTLE’S Aaron Royle defied the pain barrier to open his preparations for the Commonwealth Games with a gutsy victory in the Devonport Triathlon on Saturday, which doubled as the Australian and Oceania Olympic distance championship.

The 24-year-old from Maryville outlasted Australian teammate Ryan Fisher in a shoulder-to-shoulder sprint finish to claim his first Devonport title. He finished runner-up twice before.

Australia’s top triathlete with an international ranking of 11, the former world under-23 champion raced with limited preparation after he tore his calf training in January.

The injury required two weeks of intensive physiotherapy at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Royle said afterwards that he was in pain as he crossed the finish line but was determined not “to come to Devonport and finish second again”.

“I decided with about two kilometres to go that I just didn’t have the legs in me and I was going to save myself for a sprint finish,” he said.

“I decided just to keep that tempo going so Ryan still had to work to catch me, but I backed it off a little bit, to save for that sprint finish. It really hurt. Today it hurt a lot.”

Royle said his victory was a confidence boost before the International Triathlon Union season.

“It wasn’t easy, coming down to that last 50 metres,” he said.

“There was a little bit of hustle and bustle.

“We both wanted that inside line, but I just managed to hold him out

“I wanted a hard race.

“When you come up against the Brownlee brothers [Alistair and Jonathan] and [Javier] Gomez and those kind of guys, they are not easy races so you want to try and emulate these races as much as possible.”

Royle said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance so soon after his injury setback.

“I had a couple of weeks out so I have come into this race with no expectations,” he said.

“I had no idea how I was going to go.

“I am actually quite pleased that I’m in decent form right now.”