Blind athlete Gerrard Gosens is determined to put Busselton back in the record books when he lines up with his guide, Ultraman winner David Kalinowski at Ironman Western Australia on 3rd December.
Twelve months ago, the team of John Domandl and guide Paul McGlynn made history in Busselton posting a time of 10:53, to that point in time the fastest time for an IRONMAN by a blind/visually impaired athlete and guide. However records are made to be broken and on 10th July 2017, the time was lowered by the USA’s Erich Manser, who recorded a 10:42:59 at Ironman Maryland in July.
Determined to return the record to Australia, Brisbane’s Gerrard Gosens, guide David Kalinowski coaches Mark Turner and Troy Grice, are focused on taking a massive chunk off the existing record, looking to be the first blind/visually impaired athlete and guide to go sub ten hours in an IRONMAN. If anyone can do it, it is TEAM Gosens, headed up by motivational speaker, adventurer, athlete, pilot, Paralympian, mountaineer, dancer, triathlete and chocolatier Gerrard.
Whether it is climbing Mt Everest, “Dancing with the Stars’, running marathons or creating a quality chocolate in his two Brisbane retail stores, there are literally no limitations in Gerrard’s world. What he has accomplished is outstanding by any standard, even more so when you consider he is congenitally blind.
Gerrard has a strong background in athletics competing in three Paralympic Games and six World Championships in events ranging from 5,000m to the marathon. Triathlon wasn’t on his radar until one day he found himself in the pool recovering from a twisted knee, and an opportunity presented itself. In his typical style, Gerrard said, ‘Yes’ and since then has embraced triathlon with all his might.
“My wife Heather always says, ‘Don’t ask him, because you know he will say, yes’. I am a yes person.”
Ironman Western Australia is well known for being one of the quickest Ironman courses in the world. Now with the gauntlet thrown down the world’s fastest time for an Ironman by a blind/visually impaired athlete is officially under threat. Fresh from their first hit out under race conditions at the iconic Noosa Triathlon, Gosen and Kalinowski are primed and confident they can bring the record home to Australia.
“I arrive on Wednesday which will be a good chance to sort out the body clock, get some recovery in and familiarise myself with the course by going out on a swim near the pier and see what the current is like and the water temperature. We have put aside time to get familiar with each other, but with an athlete of the calibre of David I know I am in good hands.”
Gerrard is quick to emphasise that the record attempt is not just a ‘Gerard Gosens thing’ but a team effort and a vital part of that team is also fellow Ironman and coach Mark Turner, who he met in the lead up to another one of his personal challenges and his original coach Troy Grice.
“Some years ago they closed the Captain Cook Bridge in Brisbane for repairs, and the traffic was so bad that I was challenged to race a car from Chermside Shopping Centre to the MMM studios. It was man against machine and Mark was my guide, and we beat the car by 30 seconds over 13km.”
Gerrard is racing the Ironman Western Australia not only to inspire the entire visually impaired community but encourage more sighted athletes to become guides.
“I understand that the record is 10:42 but I always had ambitions of a sub 10 hours. I have a good half hour up my sleeve to play with, so I am quietly confident about us posting a fast time. If you can sit on four and a half to five hours on the bike that is going to put us in good stead for a 3.5-hour run. Then you are well under the ten hours.”
“There is a lot in it for the guide as much as the athlete. It is not Gerrard Gosens aiming to break the world record. It is the team of David, Mark, Troy and Gerrard. It is not about me, and it is about the teamwork because we need each other to break the world record.”
“For John Domandl and myself, it would be nice to keep the record here in Australia. Australia vs the USA, it is almost the America’s Cup of IRONMAN in some respects,” Gerrard said.