By Siobhan McCarthy
Former Olympian Michelle Ferris is set to tackle her first 70.3 distance triathlon in Canberra on this weekend. Ferris started off just running to get fit, and like many of us it didn’t take long to be convinced to do a triathlon. â€œI started out just running and training for the Blackmore’s Half Marathon with Tim (Ahern) and the (APT) group. Just training with this group and seeing how much fun and support they were giving each other, it wasn’t long before I was hooked and wanted to do triathlonsâ€.
Michelle completed her first triathlon earlier this year and like many rookie triathletes, the Sydney TriShave Series was where it all began.Â â€˜The Kurnell Olympics! Well it was a good first experience for me. It showed me that I am a crap swimmer. I think I did a lot of doggy paddle and breast stroke to finish the swim leg after thinking I couldn’t make it. Then seeing the APT guys and girls cheering kept me going to finish the swim and get onto the bikeâ€.
She has made the jump to the longer distance and is really looking forward to the challenge. â€œI guess it’s a little strange that a track sprint cyclist would want to do something longer than 250 meters, but I found after my first sprint triathlon, it was all over too quick and figured that since I was doing this for my own achievement that the 70.3 distance seemed doable and might suit me betterâ€.
After having an illustrious career as a sprint track cyclist Ferris, like many of us, is drawn to the challenge of three sports, rather than one, and is working on the balancing act that comes with it. â€œMy swim is terrible, but really working on that, with the bike leg I have to learn how to pace myself over the long distance and have something left for the runâ€.
Ferris attended the TriNSW Female Camp in Forster where super coaches John Hickey and Mick Maroney imparted their words of wisdom. â€œTransition training with John and Mick was lots of fun, I’m sure I will hear their voices in my head during T1 & T2 at Ironman Canberra 70.3â€.
Ferris is no longer racing elite cycling and vying for Olympic medals, but sees her triathlon quest as just as important. â€œI just stick to my own goals and not worry If I’m last out of the water. It is about finishing and achieving my own personal goals, remember to have fun, don’t take it all to seriously and no one looks at you strange for wanting to give something ago, they look at you with admiration for having a purpose and a goalâ€.
In addition to her silver medal winning performances at the 1996 & 2000 Olympic Games, Ferris also won medals at two Junior World Championships; a Silver medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and bronze medals in the 500-meter time trial at the 1995 and 1996 (senior) World Championships.
These days, besides training for her upcoming Ironman 70.3 in Canberra, Ferris has a two-year-old daughter Paige with her partner Kylie and can often be found at Grind in Cronulla after her squad’s early morning training.