By Karl Hayes
Michelle Wu is heading to theÂ Gold Coast Half Ironman this weekend with a winning attitude after her recent win at the Ironman 70.3 Centrair Tokoname in Japan. Wu edged out fellow Australian Rachael Paxton by two minutes to take the race. The swim proved to be the difference.
Ironically Michelle refers to her swim now being her weakest leg in triathlon even though she came from a swimming background. This is one of the reasons why she is focusing on long course non-drafting racing.
Michelle has been based in Canberra since moving from Sydney with her parents at 2 years old. She loves the lifestyle there. â€œCanberra is awesome for riding, running etc. I really love the way I can train hereâ€.Â Michelle has been coached by Ben Gathercole since she first started in triathlon. Ben has been setting up her programs and training her for almost 6 years now. Ben also coached Simon Thompson when he went to Athens in 2004.
At high schoolÂ Michelle mainly swam and played basketball . After high school she went to Wollongong University where she completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in chemistry and physics. While at Uni MichelleÂ completed an aquathlon organised by the local triathlon club.Â She was one of the top finishers and was then convinced to ride a bike.
â€œWhen I finished Uni in 2003 I went back to Canberra and joined the Trident club. I am now working part time at IP Australia (Australian Patent office) and deal with patent applications in the physics department. I work about 25 hours a week which allows me to fit in all of my training. Work is very supportive of what I do and they always approve my leave applications. I have been there part time for almost 4 yearsâ€.
â€œI was out with stress fracture at the start of 2010 and had plantar fasciitis as well. Since Byron BayÂ I have put in a good winter of training and I am feeling really good nowâ€.
Michelle had a great win in Japan on September 19. This was the first WTC 70.3 ironman she had competed in. â€œI have done a few halfs with some good success but it was exciting to race an official WTC event. I knew it was going to be a hot, tough day so I did not know how I would go. Living and training in Canberra I didn’t think I would be prepared for the heat. I had no expectations going in to Japan and there was not much of a start list to gauge the field. Rachel Paxton from Australia finished 2ndâ€.
â€œI had a good swim even though I have just been saying the swim is not my best leg. I came out of the water in second place and about 30 secs behind the first female swimmer. I took the lead on the bike at about 30kms and held on for the rest of the race. I headed out on to the run a minute ahead and took it out pretty hard but the heat got to me at around the half way mark. I had trouble breathing and slowed down to almostÂ walking pace. It was almost like asthma. I am prone to it but haven’t had it checked out yet. It always kicks in when conditions are really hot and humid. I do prefer a cooler race.
â€œI really enjoyed the time in Japan and have been there a few times. I always have really good experiences in Japan and I love Japanese foodâ€. Michelle studied Japanese at school and did a few exchange trips to Japan while at high school. â€œI will always try to go for races in Japan and also Korea. I find the way you are treated in both of these countries a great experience. The Japanese are very helpful and really look after the athletesâ€.
Michelle was also 3rd recently in an ITU Asian Cup race in Korea.
Ironman 70.3 is Michelle’s preference now. She focused on ITU last year and has broadened her outlook this year. Because the swim is not her strength the draft legal races can be a long and lonely day if you miss the bunch.
Michelle took delivery of a TT bike in April. A Felt DA. She has been riding Felt for 4-5 years now. She started through local bike shop TLC Cycles in Canberra and is now sponsored by Felt. â€œI have been very fortunate with sponsors since being an age grouper. I have been with all of them for several years. All have stuck by me through good and bad times. I never went out to chase the sponsors in a big way, but they seemed to fall in to place. I did chase some by placing expressions of interest on some of their websitesâ€.
Wu is really excited about the Gold Coast Half Ironman. Judging from previous results MichelleÂ should comfortably achieve a podium result, but she is going there to win. â€œThere is a pretty good field of girls racing this weekend. I will need to use my bike and run to my maximum potential if I am going to win. There are a couple of really good swimmers racing so I need to be on my best game in the water. I possibly might be the strongest runner out of the girlsâ€.
For the rest of the year her race calendar consists of Nepean triathlon, a Hong Kong ITU race towards the end of October and she will race theÂ Taiwan Ironman 70.3 on last the weekend in October. â€œI haven’t raced in Taiwan before and I am really looking forward to it. I am also really excited about the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Laguna, Phuket http://ironmanphuket.com/. I haven’t really planned past Christmas though. I will most likely do the Huskisson long course triathlon thoughâ€.
Michelle is very excited about future long distance races in Australia. She cites the attractive overseas prize money as one of the main reason she races overseas. “Australia is definitely looking good though for the future though. I would rather race locallyâ€
Trizone wishes Michelle all the best for the Gold Coast Half Ironman this weekend.
19th Sept Japan 70.3 1st
22nd Aug Incheon ITU Asian Cup, Korea 3rd
15th Aug Yeppoon Half IM 2nd
8th May Byron Bay Triathlon 2nd
20th Dec TACT Race 2 5th
28th Nov TACT All Stars Race 3rd
17th Oct ITU Asian Cup, Hong Kong 3rd
9th Aug ITU World Cup, Tiszaujvaros, Hungary 38th
25th July ITU Asian Cup, Beijing, China 12th
14h June ITU Asian Long Course Champs, Korea 4th
24th May ITU Asian Cup, Amakusa, Japan 16th
16th May ITU Asian Cup, Subic Bay, Phillippines 3rd
5th April ITU Oceania Cup, New Plymouth, NZ 10th
29th Mar Mooloolaba Aria Open Elite 1st
15th Mar Australian Olympic distance Champs, Perth 9th
21st Feb NSW Pro Tour, Huskisson 2nd
15th Feb Australian Sprint Champs, Hobart 6th
18th Jan NSW Pro Tour, Kurnell 1st
11th Jan ACT Sprint Champs 1stÂ