With the sound of a Lleyton Hewitt â€œC’monâ€ ringing in his ears, Olympic triathlon hope Brendan Sexton knows the ball is very much in his court when he launches his bid to make the 2012 team for London in the Australian Sprint Distance Triathlon Championship in Geelong this Sunday.
Australia’s Davis Cup tennis players, themselves with London on their minds, will be in action against China at the Geelong Lorne Tennis Club as triathlon’s prospective Olympians start their season-proper with the two available places up for grabs on the team for this year’s Games.
26-year-old Sexton has not long come down from his Falls Creek high altitude training base, where all he did was eat, sleep, run, swim and ride in a focused month-long camp he hopes will set him up to achieve a life- long dream of becoming an Olympian.
After coming out of a post-altitude training â€œholeâ€ he is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and what he is hoping will be a clear picture of Buckingham Palace and the Olympic venue for this year’s Olympic triathlon on August 7.
And the message is clear: â€œMake the most of every opportunity between now and the ITU Sydney World Championship Series round.â€
A repeat or better performance than his fourth place in last year’s World Championship round will certainly put Sexton in a sound position when Australia’s selectors meet to finalise the team in May.
Since 2000, there have been eight men who have earned Olympic triathlon status: Craig Walton, Peter Robertson and Miles Stewart (Sydney 2000); Greg Bennett, Simon Thompson and Robertson (Athens, 2004) and Brad Kahlefeldt, Courtney Atkinson and Bennett (Beijing, 2008).
It is one of the smallest but select groups in triathlon’s brief Olympic history that sees one of Australia’s most popular sports heading towards a fourth Games since that history-making dive into Sydney Harbour back on the opening day of the 2000 Games.
Sexton, the boy from Maitland, nestled between Newcastle and the picturesque Hunter Valley, but now firmly entrenched in the VIS program in Melbourne, would love nothing more than to add his name to that illustrious list in 2012
He aims to leave no stone unturned over the next two months as he sets his sights on a berth in a team that will line up on August 7 to race in and around iconic Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace in the City of Westminster.
â€œEverything is aimed towards making that Australian team for London,â€ said Sexton, who admits he knows what he has to do.
â€œIt is something I have set myself for and it is something I know I can achieve â€“ it’s just a matter of getting in and doing it.
â€œI am not going to change anything â€“ I’d be stupid to change things now
â€œIt’s all up to me. I know what I need to do and that’s continue to work hard and to replicate what I did 12 months ago in the lead up to the Sydney race where I finished fourth.
â€œFour weeks at altitude training where there were no distractions, it was just training every day in an environment I have become comfortable with and I know will set me up for the season ahead
â€œThe Geelong Sprint Championship is my first race and I would love nothing more than to add my name to list of winners.
â€œIt is a short term goal for me and it’s a shame that Brad (Kahlefeldt) isn’t racing but I know he has different priorities now (he has been pre-nominated for London) but it is still going to be a very strong men’s line up.
â€œCourtney is in good form after winning in Caloundra and you have Laurent Vidal (second last year), Chris McCormack and a host of all the younger boys. It is going to be a great race and you will have to get out and get into it from the opening swim leg.”
Sexton was third last year, holding off those youngsters who will be certain to put the pressure on from the outset
Another youngster with her sights on London is 20-year-old Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle who will be among a host of Olympic hopefuls who will line up in the women’s race against her training partner, two-time World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Emma Moffat.
â€œThe changes I have made over the last 12 months to join coach Craig Walton’s squad which includes Emma has been a positive move for me,â€ said Gentle
â€œCraig has been there done that and some of things I have been able to pick up from Craig have been very helpful and just being around Moffy has been a positive influence.
â€œWe both have similar, laid back personalities but when it comes down to training hard then I have massive respect for Emma. She is so competitive and we push each other.
Geelong will be Gentle’s first race in â€œso longâ€ in fact since the ITU World Sprint Championship in Lausanne last year and she is looking forward to what she admits will be a tough day.
â€œIt is going to be tough but in saying that an ideal way to start the season before I race in Devonport and Sydney,â€ says Gentle.
â€œI am feeling good on the bike and I am looking forward to getting down to Geelong and racing.â€
Gentle will face some stiff opposition, apart from Moffatt with 2008 Olympian Erin Densham, determined to get as much race practice as she can after finishing second to Emma Jackson in Caloundra last week.
They will be joined by New Zealand’s number one Olympic contender, ITU World Championship grand final winner Andrea Hewitt and a host of aspiring youngsters, who will no doubt also have their eyes on the Geelong Sprint prize.
Matthew Hauser: Behind the Scenes of the Commonwealth Games & What it Took to Get There
Matthew Hauser is becoming a household name among triathlon fans. The 20-year-old’s most recent victory was the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games mixed team relay triathlon. He competed on the Australian team. In the elite men’s individual triathlon, he came in fourth. He also earned a silver medal in the International Triathlon Union’s (ITU’s) 2018 Mooloolaba World Cup. He first made a name for himself after winning the 2017 ITU World Cup in Chengdu.
Trizone caught up with him to talk about his struggles leading up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and his performance, training, behind the scenes stories, and his plans for the future. He also spoke about the Mooloolaba World Cup and other highlights of the 2018 season.
Injury & Uncertainty Leading Up to the Commonwealth Games
Last year, Hauser had a stress-related fibula injury that almost prevented him from competing in the Commonwealth Games. He told Trizone, “I was kind of panicked. It was just before selection. I wanted to get to a point where I would be selected, but then I was against the clock with this injury. It was a stressful lead up. I had the flu and this overhanging injury on my mind. I had a relapse as well. I was starting to get some run fitness back, and there was some stress in the bone just before Christmas.”
In the months before the Commonwealth Games, media outlets were asking Hauser for comments because he was a Gold Coast local. This occasionally made him nervous, because it reminded him that the pressure was on. “I felt like there was a spotlight on me, being a local athlete,” he said.
Good thing for Hauser, there came a point when he changed his perspective and training focus. He was also surrounded by a supportive crowd that included his coach and training partners. This helped alleviate his anxiety.
“I always had this belief in myself that my body would be alright on the day of. I just started focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and trying to climb that ladder to peak fitness. It was a slow journey. It felt like it took forever, but all that shifted my focus away from the pressure of the Games. At that point, it wasn’t about how I’d perform there, but about getting fit, and getting the body into shape again. That helped with the psychological side of things,” Hauser said.
Hauser’s performance manager, Justin Drew, told him that February’s Luke Harrop Memorial Games would decide whether he was ready for the Commonwealth Games. They both understood this was the race that would “get rid of all reasonable doubt that I was not ready for the Games.”
Renewed Hope at the Luke Harrop Memorial Games
The first race of the year can be a bit annoying and unpredictable. After building his run up to a mere 25-30km per week, Hauser was a little uncertain how the Luke Harrop Games would go. He was counting on a strong bike performance.
“I managed to lead for the first 5-10km or so, and then came back to the group,” Hauser said, referring to the bike leg.
Due to water quality concerns, the swim leg was canceled. That left only the bike and run. During the run, Hauser’s main goal was to stay as close as possible to fellow Australian triathlete Luke Willian.
“I could definitely feel those 25-30km weeks toward the latter half of the first run. I think one run would have done me fine. To have two in there was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to hold on. I got as close as I could to Luke in the end, but he was too strong,” Hauser said.
In the end, Willian claimed gold with a time of 49:16. Hauser won silver just six seconds behind him. This was when things started looking up for the Commonwealth Games.
It took one more race to seal his full confidence: The ITU Mooloolaba World Cup in March.
Mooloolaba Podium Finish Seals “a New Lease”
There were only a couple weeks between Luke Harrop and Mooloolaba, so Hauser was pretty confident leading into the latter. He also knew it would be a challenge. He was up against not only Willian, but also USA’s Matthew McElroy and South Africa’s Richard Murray.
The prep for Mooloolaba was centered around mindset.
“I just tried to emulate the mindset of successful races in the past, like Rotterdam. I think I really nailed that mindset leading into this race. I knew I had to recreate that mental state, in order to be prepared for the Commonwealth Games as well. Just focusing on staying in the moment, and creating opportunities for myself, and not letting others dictate the race. I think that was really important,” he said.
By this point, Hauser was feeling much better about his run.
Hauser reflected on the experience, “I knew I had the legs on the run. Richard Murray just flew off from the gun, and I had to pace myself with a few others behind me, like Sam Ward and Matt McElroy. Catching Richard toward the end was a big confidence boost of mine. I said to myself, ‘If I can get this close and I still have a few weeks left, then I can get a little more work in and see how it goes.’”
Murray, Hauser, and McElroy took gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, within a span of eight seconds. Murray finished in 53:09. Willian finished eighth in 53:44.
It was a near-perfect moment on the journey toward the Commonwealth Games.
“When Luke Harrop happened, and when Mooloolaba happened, it was like I had a new lease on life. All that stress released, and I thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose now,’” he said.
Arrival at the Commonwealth Games
Up through Mooloolaba, Hauser successfully kept his anxiety in check by keeping his mind focused on the here and now. Apparently, it was a winning strategy. After Mooloolaba, he continued this mindset during his training sessions and performances in the Commonwealth Games.
The strategy worked well. “I went into the games quite relaxed. I was just trying to enjoy the experience. Just being there in the moment and not letting the mind waver or run to the finish line too early,” Hauser said. “It was critical to my prep. The nervousness and excitement turned into potential results.”
By the elite men’s triathlon, Hauser began to realize that this long mental and emotional journey, before such a high profile event, was just a normal part of the sport.
On the morning of the triathlon, Hauser got up and did what he calls a wake up jog. Afterward, he prepared for the day by going through notes he created in his iPhone. He, and other competitors, also had plenty of time to watch the elite women’s triathlon and see how the women did on the course.
When he arrived at the site of the men’s start line, he went into tunnel vision mode. “I just wanted to get on the start line,” he said. “[To] any volunteer who came to me, I said, ‘not now. I’m in the zone.’ I kept it relaxed until that two or three hour buffer, when I’m checking in and doing all this stuff before the race. When you keep it relaxed, you can really intensify the psychological side of things during the crunch time before the race.”
Muscling Through the Swim
Despite his successes with the previous races, Hauser didn’t have enough points for an ideal position on the start line. This handicap wasn’t a big deal to him. He said, “I had to reassure myself that, no matter where I was on the start line, it was all about the first 200-300m to the first buoy.”
The swim wasn’t easy. “For the first 100-200m, I just had to muscle through it.”
He was surrounded by the Brownlee Brothers, Tayler Reid, Mark Austin, and other big name athletes. “I was comfortable heading there in 5th or 6th behind those guys. I felt like I had the energy on reserve,” he said. Hauser exited the swim in a leading pack of six.
The leading pack kept a good buffer into the bike, but Hauser began with a struggle. “The first five minutes was a tough time for me, especially trying to assess the slickness of the surface with my tires, and getting a feel for the corners,” Hauser said.
Hauser looked to the Brownlees to lead for the first few minutes. He said, “When you got people as experienced and strong as the Brownlee Brothers, you have to let them lead you around the course for the first bit, because they’re probably the least likely to make mistakes out there.” He kept a close eye on Alistair Brownlee and watched how he turned corners.
Hauser quickly “got into a groove” and settled in with the group. The corners “became second nature by the end of the bike,” he said.
“They Just Lifted Me”: Deafening Audience Erases the Pain During Run
Hauser, along with Reid, was one of the first onto the run. Mark Austin and Jonny Brownlee followed. The first half of the first lap was rough. His legs were in pain. He could barely breathe, and he was waiting for the people behind him to run past him.
When he began the second half of the first lap, it was the crowd who helped him propel to his near-podium finish. “They just lifted me,” Hauser said. “I could no longer feel the pain. It just slowly went away. I was like ‘Now that I got through that, I can get on with the race.’ I knew I was a stronger runner.” It was game on for the rest of the run.
This is when he was able to give the crowd what they wanted. Hauser said, “I picked up the pace, and the crowd was so bloody deafening. It was crazy. It was almost like they took the pain away from my legs. I was running on excitement and energy.”
At one point he watched fellow Australian and mixed relay teammate, Jake Birtwhistle whiz right past him. Hauser felt happy for him, knowing that Birtwhistle put a lot of energy into this race. He knew that Ryan Scissons and Richard Murray would be right behind Birtwhistle. A quick glance in back of him confirmed this.
“Scissons came up behind me and sat on me for a bit, and tried to go around me, in that second lap. I held onto him and used the crowd to attack him with 400-500m to go. It’s funny that I was so concentrated on Scissons,” Hauser said.
In the final 400m, Hauser spotted Mark Austin ahead of him and decided to catch up with him. He said, “He looked up at the big screen and saw me closing in fast. I think he kind of sh#t himself there.”
Hauser came in fourth in 52:46, just behind Austin. It was both a joyful and painful moment. “I put that little bit extra in and crossed the finish two seconds off the podium in the end. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I was also super excited that I came back and recovered from my early minutes on the run and finished it off,” Hauser said.
Taking silver and gold were Birtwhistle (52:38) and South Africa’s Henri Schoeman (52:31). The first four finishes spanned a brief 15 seconds. The podium finishes spanned 13.
“Hungry for More” at the Mixed Team Relay
The mixed relay triathlon was two days later, on Saturday, 7thApril. The Australian team was announced on Friday morning and included Hauser, Birtwhistle, Ashleigh Gentle, and Gillian Backhouse.
After the elite men’s race, Hauser spent some time with family members who attended the events. The team got together on Friday evening. Hauser described the mood that night.
“We really revved ourselves up. We were kind of still hungry for more. We knew we had a point to prove after the world champs last year. We thought England would be tough to beat. They just came off the champs in Glasgow. Reflecting on all our individual performances, we were really excited to give that gold medal a crack,” Hauser said.
The team didn’t create much of a strategy other than deciding the order of participation in the relay. On Saturday, they looked at the board to see who they were up against. They all had a pretty good sense of what to do during the race. Hauser said, “In the end, it was a team thing, but it was individual performances stacked on top of each other. I think that’s how we went into the race.”
During the early stages of the race, Backhouse and Britain’s Vicky Holland lead the way. Five minutes before the changeover, Hauser and Jonny Brownlee had a brief strategy session. As Hauser describes it, “It’s just Australia and England now. We should work together on the swim and bike, and then really distance ourselves, and leave it to the run to see who changes over.”
Nullifying the Jonny Brownlee Threat
Hauser and Brownlee were tagged by their teammates roughly five seconds apart. Hauser recalls the swim. He said, “Brownlee had a buffer on me, but I think I caught up to him in the first few strokes of the swim. It was good to be on his heels then. We worked really well. I think we put in 10-15 seconds into the other guys, even though there were three of them. I tried to drop him with all my might and power, but he was too strong in the end.” He noted that he stayed close enough to Brownlee to nullify any threat.
UK’s Learmonth Stumbles After Bike, Securing Australian Win
The deciding factor in the race was an epic showdown between Gentle and Britain’s Jessica Learmonth. Learmonth left the water about 15 seconds before Gentle, but Gentle caught up with her on the bike. During the transition to the run, Learmonth stumbled while dismounting the bike, allowing Gentle to sprint ahead.
Gentle tagged Birtwhistle, who turned a 39 second lead over Alistair Brownlee into 52 seconds. Birtwhistle crossed the finish line. Australia won gold with a time of 01:17:36.
Once Birtwhistle entered the run, the Australian team knew they had already won. Gillian, Gentle, and Hauser greeted him at the finish line to a roaring crowd.
A Win for the Home Team & the Sport of Triathlon
Hauser recalled that moment. “It nourished our hunger. The gold was really good. Embracing him at the line was a pretty special moment with the crowd going off,” he said. “I think it was a bit of Australian pride, knowing we’d given something back to the Australian public and contributed to the medal tally for the Australian team. I think it was a special time for us because, obviously, triathlon isn’t the main event in the CWG.”
Hauser noted he felt that the victory lifted the status of the sport of triathlon within Australia, possibly inspiring future generations of Australian triathletes.
Hauser Gives Credit to a Supportive Community
Hauser had relatives, training partners, and others who shared his glory after the gold. Some fellow triathletes were also able to console him after his two-second deficit from the podium.
One such person was Australian para triathlete Nick Beveridge. Beveridge is one of his training partners, and he’s now his roommate. Hauser was able to watch him perform in the para triathlon on the same day as the mixed relay. Beveridge won a silver medal that day.
Miles Stewart, retired triathlete and CEO of Triathlon Australia, congratulated Hauser and helped him put his fourth-place individual triathlon finish in perspective.
“He said he’d come fourth a lot of times, and that just really made him hungry to get to the podium the next time around,” Hauser said. “Reflecting with him on that was pretty cool, because I could definitely relate at that point in time. The hunger was definitely there to keep on keeping on. Knowing I was two seconds off the podium was a massive confidence boost. Looking to the future, it was kind of exciting to see that he went through the same thing, and it motivated him to go on to win seven world championships.”
Hauser credits his family for all their support through the years. About them he said, “They (parents) have been fantastic. They haven’t pushed me into anything. They’ve been there to support, and love. I come from a very Christian family. A lot of values and morals. We’re centered around that, so I’m very thankful for that and the upbringing. Having them there, and helping to keep me very grounded, it’s massively important.”
Hauser noted that people often not only congratulate him on his race performances, but also for having great parents. Both parents sacrificed a lot to help him and his sister pursue their careers. His sister is an actor in Brisbane.
Hauser’s mother also attends every single race, so her support is very visible to others.
“I can always hear a distinct voice in the crowd,” he said, referring to his mom. “I’ve heard it throughout my sporting career. Just having that reassurance that they’re there supporting me and loving me. It’s pretty fantastic.
Next Stop: Yokohama, Then Tokyo
After a week of celebrations following the Commonwealth Games, Hauser began training for ITU’s World Triathlon Yokohama, which is on the 21stof May.
Yokohama is a sprint distance triathlon. What’s motivating Hauser even more is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the prospect of which is allowing him to expand his horizons and train for longer races.
“That’s the next step,” he said. “Tokyo will be Olympic distance, so I can’t really shy away from it any longer. I’m just excited to push myself and train to get to that next level, and prove to myself whether I can really perform under those kinds of distances. And prove to the rest of the ITU circuit as well. I’m really looking forward to the challenge. And pushing my body to that kind of level.”
Tokyo will be the first Olympic Games to feature the mixed team relay triathlon format.
AFL Champ Brent Staker Makes Triathlon Debut at Mooloolaba
With high profile career with the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Lions, athletic key position player Brent Staker has experienced the constant physical demands of competition, the resulting injuries and all the highs and lows that cut throat professional sports can deliver. Football was his life and after years of structured training and competition, like many athletes before him, the veteran of 160 AFL games found himself retired far too early and in need of a new sporting outlet.
Retirement is often very frustrating for elite sportspeople and increasingly, elite athletes from all codes and sports are finding their way to the new sporting challenge of swim/ride/run. On Sunday (11 March) Brent is making his triathlon debut and taking the plunge, joining the more than 3,000 athletes competing at the iconic Mooloolaba Triathlon, racing over the standard distance of 1500m swim/40km ride/10km run.
“This is my first triathlon, my very first one. My plan was to try and squeeze in a few smaller ones in the lead up but unfortunately with work commitments and other things in life getting in the way and I couldn’t get it to work out. I am the assistant coach for the Brisbane Lions women’s team in the AFLW so there is a commitment there and I didn’t have enough time to have the practice run. So this event will be my very first triathlon.”
“I dedicated myself to playing football for 13 years and didn’t really explore any other sports in that time. But I always knew that when I retired I would give something like this a go. Last year I transitioned out of footy and I got to the end of the year and made the commitment to apply myself and have a crack at triathlon. I thought Mooloolaba would be a great one to start with.”
“When you are playing professional sport you get so used to a schedule week in week out that when you do retire you do miss it and sometimes get a bit lost. Although it is not 100 per cent necessary in your life, having a schedule or a fitness regime is great. I developed my own training program and have stuck to it since early December. When you are retired you can sit around and do nothing so it has kept my mind active and all the exercise helps get rid of the negative energy. Staying active it keeps your mind fresh and keeps you positive and gives you a goal. This is my goal to tick off the Mooloolaba Tri and I am working towards that.”
“I have always had a keen interest in triathlon because I like the sport. It is a great challenge. I went to the Accenture Series races many years ago and I watched Courtney Atkinson competing over in Perth and just enjoyed the whole spectacle, the hype and the build up around it. I have watched the Noosa Triathlon, having a few beers in the stands, seeing how hard the competitors work. So there has always been a genuine interest and I have always enjoyed watching it on TV and at the Olympics. It has always been in the back of my mind to have a go at it one day and do it for fun and see what I can get out of it.”
At 196cm and weighing around 100kg, Brent is not the regular build of a triathlete but during his time with the Eagles and the Lions he exhibited amazing athleticism and endurance and he is hoping his big motor and determination will get him across the finish line.
“I have always been an okay swimmer so maybe that was a bit of a fluke. I am good in the pool but putting that into the ocean is going to be the biggest challenge for me. I haven’t done that much open water swimming so my depth perception with the goggles on might throw me a little bit, and obviously adjusting to the waves will be a challenge. I can swim, I am just hoping for a pretty flat day.”
“During my football career I had a couple of knee reconstructions and my rehab involved getting a road bike and I had plenty of time spent out on the bike during what turned to be two years of rehabilitation. I learned the road etiquette, how to ride and enjoy the challenge of that. Cycling is a really good sport and I know sometimes riders get a bad rap but it is a really, really great sport. I really enjoyed it and I have a nice bike that I ride most mornings. So that leg should be okay. I am weighing a bit more than I was when I was playing and that might go against me a bit but the running should be okay.”
Brent has found the transition from being a part of team structure to an individual sport quite challenging but he is slowly coming to terms with the demands of competing for himself.
“It has been different not having a team structure around me. The main thing with a team sport is that when you are hurting you can rely on someone to talk to or push you through. But 95 per cent of my sessions have been done on my own so when I am starting to hurt I am really challenging myself to get through it. That has been a huge change. Especially with sticking to the routine and getting out of bed at 4.30am three or four mornings a week. Doing a ride, doing a swim, fitting in a run and a few strength sessions as well. A lot of kudos goes out to the individual athletes out there that have done it for a long period of time. It is amazing how they stick at it and stay strong.”
“I can already see why people get addicted to it. It keeps you sticking to a routine and it is a great way to meet other people and socialize. All those things are great but clearly there is also an addiction to the challenge and the heat of the moment when your mind is saying no and the body keeps going. That is the challenge that I am looking forward to experiencing and seeing how I push through that. Hopefully I will come out the other side feeling pretty good.
As the forward coach at the Brisbane Lions AFLW team and doing radio commentary in Brisbane and the Gold Coast during the AFL season, Brent still has an active role in football but he is hoping triathlon will become his next passion.
“I do miss the footy. I miss the physicality and the highs and lows. One of the best things you can do is run out on game day, through the banner and hearing the crowd. That is something I really miss and is something you can’t replace. It is such a unique thing that is hard to describe what it is like in those moments. I don’t think I will ever be able to describe it perfectly but it is a real buzz being out there. I do miss it. I have sort of been visualizing what the triathlon will be like, as silly as that sounds. The swim, the bike or the run and pushing through the pain but I hadn’t taken into account the crowd and how much their support might help. Hopefully they can give me a lift,” Brent said.
Pre Wedding Nerves? Mooloolaba Triathlon Perfect Solution
When Kristy Dobson and fiancé Jordan Miller, line up for the Mooloolaba Triathlon (11 March) there will be ‘no quarter given and no quarter asked’ and not too much loving or cherishing, as they strive to get to the finish line first.
Six days later the happy Mackay couple will be putting all their on course rivalry aside when they take their wedding vows (with a triathlon exemption) and from that day forward, it will be for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Kristy and Jordan met at work dinner six years ago but it is only more recently that they have shared their love of triathlon.
“I started triathlons about two and a half years years ago, when I completed a six week training program to compete in a Women’s Only Triathlon (200m swim, 8km bike, 2km run) in Mackay. I was very hesitant to sign up for the program, but needed something aside from work, as I was doing nothing else and unfit.”
“My partner, Jordan, who had done triathlons all through high school and even in recent years, convinced me to sign up for the program. I finished the Women’s Only Race, and surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it and the love has grown from there.”
Like many athletes before her, Kristy’s passion for triathlon has taken over and gradually the race distances have creeped up.
“We do a few big races each year and last year I completed my first IRONMAN 70.3 in Cairns, we also did the Olympic distance races at Yeppoon, Mackay and Noosa.”
“We have done Noosa now for the past two years and this year I wanted to try a different race and Mooloolaba worked out to be the week prior to our wedding. We figured we would be down that way for the wedding, so why not just extend our leave a little, and do Mooloolaba Triathlon while we were there.”
“The wedding is in Toowoomba the Saturday following the Mooloolaba Triathlon in my parent’s backyard, with the reception to follow there as well with a 100 of our nearest and dearest. There is no honeymoon immediately afterwards, but we are taking a week to relax before travelling home from Mooloolaba to Mackay.”
Kristy and Jordan are all fired up for a fun day out but given their normal preparation has been overtaken by wedding plans they are expecting a little bit of hurt from the hills on the ride and run.
“Our preparation is not probably not where we would want to be, Christmas took its toll, and fitting in training between wedding planning and an already busy life has been tough. We’re both keen to have a super fun race, and enjoy the celebrations afterwards.”
“But there is definitely a rivalry between us. At our last race hit out, I beat Jordan by 27 seconds, so it is game on to see who comes out victorious at Mooloolaba,” Kristy said.
Age No Barrier for Mooloolaba Legends Gale and Ross
Brisbane couple Gale and Ross Rogers are living proof that the sport of triathlon has something for everyone and it is never too late to get involved, no matter your age or sporting background.
This weekend 68 year old Gale and 70 year old husband Ross are making their annual pilgrimage to Mooloolaba Triathlon (11 March) to build on their “legend” status at this iconic Sunshine Coast event and once again lay it on the line over the standard distance of 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
Raising a family on the Gold Coast hinterland didn’t give them much time for “sporty stuff” but later moving back to Brisbane they began a search for a pastime they could do together in retirement. They tinkered with road cycling for a short time but it was a chance meeting with an old school colleague at Noosa that kick started the couple’s love affair with triathlon that has now lasted two decades.
“The year before we started triathlon I accidently ran into an old school colleague at Noosa and he was a little bit weight challenged,” Ross said. “I thought, well, if he can do triathlon, we can do it,”
The couple’s first foray into triathlon was in a team but they quickly graduated in the entry level events, very popular in South East Queensland, before beginning their love affair with both the Mooloolaba and Noosa triathlons. Having competed in the individual triathlon more than ten years, Gale and Ross are now members of the Mooloolaba Triathlon Legends Club and they can’t wait to get back racing on the Sunshine Coast.
“Ross started doing triathlon as a team when he was around fifty. I had one go in a team in Noosa and found it so stressful that I thought I would be better off doing it on my own. That was twenty years ago and we have been doing it ever since. We used to do a lot of the smaller Bribie Tri Series and the smaller sprint distance ones but for the last number of years we have just focused purely on Mooloolaba and Noosa and loved doing those two events.”
“Once we started racing at Mooloolaba and Noosa we haven’t stopped. We love the buzz from being at the events with a whole lot of likeminded and fit people. The races are in such beautiful locations and we have never done an Olympic distance anywhere else, these races are so well run, you can’t fault them.”
“Being legends is just an extra little icing on the cake and there are a lot of bragging rights in that. We have missed a couple, so this will be my 13th Mooloolaba but we haven’t missed too many Noosa Tris. We often are overseas cycling in Europe but we try to make sure we are back in time for six weeks preparation for Noosa,” Gale said.
Married for 47 years, Gale and Ross love the opportunity to get out together every day in the superb training environment of Brisbane’s CBD.
“We cycle together with a group every day but none of them are triathletes. We live in an apartment building with an indoor 25 metre pool so we swim there. Living in the City of Brisbane we run over to South Bank or down along the river to New Farm which is very pleasant training environment. It is not a hardship running along there in the morning.”
“Ross turned 70 just recently and I am 68, while there are a lot of older men competing, we haven’t come across many couples racing at our age. It is such a buzz doing the training and getting motivated to do something every day and then there is the satisfaction of actually completing an Olympic distance race at our age. It keeps us going.”
Their preparation for Mooloolaba is on track and Gale is looking forward to bettering her time from last year.
“As I say to anyone who cares to listen that it is an advantage being older and female, because there are fewer competitors in my age group. There are no 70 year old women competing in Mooloolaba but there are seven in my age group. Whereas the males just keep going on and on and they don’t give it away. So it is a bit tougher for Ross.”
“My times are quite constant, in fact I improved my time in Noosa last year and did the best time I have done in ages and was pleasantly surprised. Training has been going well for Mooloolaba but that course is a bit more challenging with the hill on the run. But you just put your head down and do it. The real satisfaction is crossing the finish line but I have checked out my previous Mooloolaba times so I will keep them in mind this year. But you never know on the day,” she said.
Wilson Family Embraces the Challenge at Mooloolaba Triathlon
Angus Wilson, wife Sandie and grown up ‘kids’ Bianca, Callum and Dodie from “Nungwai” a farming property, up Goondiwindi way, are the perfect example of a family that plays together, stays together.
This weekend the entire Wilson clan is hitting the road and looking for a change of scenery, making the 1,000km round trip to the Sunshine Coast for some swim/ride/run and family fun at the Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival (9-11 March).
If you hail from Goondiwindi it is hard not to be involved in triathlon, as the iconic border town on the Macintyre River is heavily into its multisport and the home of the iconic long course event the Hell of the West.
The Wilson’s involvement in triathlon goes back to 2004 when parents Angus and Sandie first joined with the Goodiwindi Triathlon Club and since then the sport has become an integral part of their family life.
“Sandie and I have always enjoyed sport, being fit, along with socializing in the community, so when triathlons started up in Goondiwindi this seemed a logical activity to get involved in.”
“We have always been an athletic family, participating in rugby, rowing, touch, squash, water skiing, snow-skiing and many more sports and we have been doing mini-tris (300m swim, 12km ride and 2.5 km run) in town on Sunday mornings since the club’s beginning.”
“Callum, Bianca and Dodie started participating in these mini-tris when they were home for school holidays. Since being out of school, Bianca has done a couple of Olympic distance triathlons, Callum a single one, however Mooloolaba is Dodie’s first time over this distance.”
“The family has also been involved with Goondiwindi’s Hell of the West for several years, volunteering as well as competing. This year Bianca completed the individual, while Dodie did the swim, and Sandie, Callum and myself completed the bike leg.”
“Sandie and I are usually compete in local triathlon events, including ‘Torture on the Border’ at Texas, ‘Battle on the Balonne’ in St George, and this year we are heading to the coast for the Coffs Harbour and of course to the Mooloolaba triathlon.”
“This year we are motivated to do Mooloolaba Triathlon to maintain fitness, enjoy the family challenge, and for the kids to embrace a friendly rivalry. We are driven to be a close knit family after our daughter Paris was killed in a boating accident in 2011. Triathlons have encouraged us to develop strength and perseverance, not only physically, but emotionally,” Angus said.
The family has always done pool swims, group rides and park runs together when they are all home but with the ‘kids’ all grown up and with lives of their own, group training is not always easy to co-ordinate as it once was.
The Mooloolaba Triathlon is a definite family favourite with Sandie and Angus having participated in either individual or team for the past eight years, Bianca and Callum competing six times, and Dodie three times.
“Dodie has returned to university to complete her studies, Callum works away on our farm, and Bianca is a full-time teacher coordinating sport at her school and because we have many other commitments, the training for Mooloolaba has not been as consistent as we would have liked.”
“Sandie and I are certainly not competitive, just to finish an Olympic distance triathlon is our triumph. But despite the restrictions to training, Callum and Bianca have been training hard individually, to be the ’better’ sibling. As the older brother, Callum would like to think he can beat his sister, but ‘Times’ will tell,” Angus said.
Alf Is an Inspiration at 77 Years Young
The Gold Coast is home to some outstanding triathletes but none more inspiring than 77-year-old rookie Alf Lakin who is all fired up to do his thing at the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial on 25 February.
Alf lives and breathes triathlon and 2018 is a very special year for him as a competitor and a spectator with three world-class events – Gold Coast Triathlon Luke Harrop Memorial, the Commonwealth Games triathlon (April) and ITU Grand Final (September) literally on his doorstep.
Alf was a typical kid growing up in post-war Sydney, he was firmly indoctrinated into the world of Rugby League, playing for his school De La Salle Ashfield, doing a bit of inter-club running in the offseason and using his bike to get around on.
His passion for running saw him tinker in the world ‘professional’ handicap racing for many years before he joined the Master’s Athletics ranks in 1980 at age 40. Then 22 years ago, Alf made a life-changing decision to move to the Gold Coast.
“My wife Karen and I literally met on the track. When I got up here I formed the Gold Coast Masters Athletic Club and she just rang up one day. So I met her down the track and that was it. It was October 1998 and she got me hook, line and sinker.”
Alf was a hardcore runner and competed in Master’s Athletics for 35 years and then two years ago, at the age of 75, he had a sporting epiphany.
“I was down at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre and they opened up a gym so we went down there the first day and there was a lady called Julie Hall and she was talking about triathlon and running a tri-class there. I said, ‘I am going to try this’.”
“I was just sitting on a stationary bike and swimming in a pool so how could it be embarrassing? I had no swimming whatsoever and Julie said all dive into the water and I had to stop halfway up the pool. I just couldn’t do it. I hadn’t been on a bike for 60 years so that was a bit strange. But I went two to three times a week and thought ‘This is not bad’. From there I couldn’t get enough of it.”
Bitten by the triathlon bug Alf decided to train for his first triathlon, a race in Robina in September 2015 and it was a day that changed his life.
“I remember my first triathlon. My wife was screaming at me, ‘Hey you have gone past your bike’. So I had to go back and get my bike. Karen is always there and so supportive.”
Since then Alf has medalled in two Australian titles, won a few age group races and represented Australia at two triathlon world championships, Cozumel in 2016 and Rotterdam in 2017, and has qualified for the ITU Grand Final on the Gold Coast in September.
“When I got to Cozumel walking around and seeing all these triathletes was fantastic. It was a wonderful atmosphere and Rotterdam was the same. Unfortunately, I got an arthritic problem a day before the race in Holland and I was advised not to race and make it worse. It was just one of those things because I was back into training soon after I returned. We think it was the long flight and the change of weather.”
Alf is a member of the very supportive T-Rex Triathlon Club but he said he mostly trains by himself and sets his own program.
“Some days I do two exercise sessions, morning and afternoon. Other days it is one session and I always have one day a week off. I try and do my longer stuff on the weekend rather than during the week. It is just a matter of planning. I love the sport, I love getting up and getting ready to train. If it is raining it won’t stop me.”
Alf has his triathlon and Karen is an active Masters runner and both are determined to not let the grass grow under their feet.
“People say to me that it is too late but I always say to them that too late is when you are dead. You might as well make the most of it while you are still going. I might be slow but I get there and at 77 what else would I want to do?”
“I love it when the young ones come flying past me on the bike “whoosh” and they are gone. I don’t care, I am happy with what I am doing and if I am only doing 25kmh and they are doing 60kmh good luck to them. I am not a legend, I just enjoy what I do and if I can inspire just a few people to get out there and do something I think that is great.”
After the ITU Grand Final, Alf is hoping to step up his distance and make his IRONMAN 70.3 debut at Western Sydney in November.
“If my training goes alright, I will see how I am going around July or August. My tri club mates tried to talk me out of it and that is the worst thing that could do. My doctor’s attitude is if you train hard enough you are good enough,” he said.
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