Athletes feel heat as weather worries grow
THE summer of sizzle continues to pose a challenge for Australia's best athletes as they strive for Commonwealth Games selection.
Fresh off the back of the nation's best track and field athletes sweltering through days of heatwave conditions at Carrara, Australia's top swimmers are looking for ways to beat the elements at the Commonwealth Games trials in just over a week's time.
Water temperature at the open-air Gold Coast Aquatic Centre has reached almost 30C recently, while thunderstorms and rain also threaten the event.
Organisers decided not to put a temporary roof on the stadium in a move that could come back to bite them if either the trials or the Games are hit by a major rain event.
Finals at the athletics trials were delayed by about half an hour on Friday night as organisers waited for a storm to pass, although fans and athletes at least had covered stands to retreat to.
Electrical storms would pose a major threat to competition and they are not out of the question, with Weatherzone's 28-day rain forecast predicting a high chance of rain at the start of the event.
Olympic champion Mack Horton took part in the first major competition at the revamped aquatic centre in 2014 when rain all but washed out the Pan Pacific championships.
"Firstly, I hope it doesn't rain, because at Pan Pacs it rained non-stop for three days," he said.
But having taken part in a training camp at the venue last December, he said the heat could be a greater issue.
"The heat is something that we had to adjust to when we were on the camp - not just the outside temp but the pool temp," Horton said.
"They measured it one day and it was 29.5C, so that's pretty hot and hard when you're doing 400m and 1500m.
"But it'll just be a matter of getting used to that as quick as possible and trying to stay cool as long as possible."
The heat has been an issue at the national track and field titles over the past three days, with athletes battling temperatures of 35C and oppressive humidity.
While it's unlikely there will be a repeat in April, the conditions are still likely to be a shock to the system of northern hemisphere athletes.
As Scotland announced a further 92 athletes to its Games team last week, temperatures there languished around 6C and athletes can expect a rude shock on arrival in Queensland.
Horton has more to worry about than just the elements though.
He will complete a marathon program over four days at the trials, swimming the 200m, 400m and 1500m.
But he hopes not to find himself in the same situation as last year when he was a surprise winner of the 200m and ended up with the individual swim at the world championships.
"We haven't discussed (what would happen if I won an individual berth) because if it happens again, it'll be an accident," Horton said.
"I'm really just going for that relay spot.
"I still love the 400m and the 1500m and the 4x200m relay as well because it doesn't get much better than a team event."