Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack is embarking on possibly one of his biggest challenges to date. Over the next year, Macca has to get his swim in line with the fastest ITU guys and then be able to get off the bike and run 10kms in under 30 minutes. One thing that someone like Macca can do is to possibly push the pace on the bike which could change the way that the ITU races are played out. He has been there before. He won both the 1997 Triathlon World Championships and the 1997 ITU World Cup Series. McCormack was controversially left off the Australian Olympic Team for Sydney 2000 even though he was the highest ranked Australian on the world triathlon circuit.
Trizone wanted to know what Macca’s motivation was for getting back into ITU racing. Is he driven by the dream of making the Olympics team in 2012 and being a part of something special that only those who have represented Australia at an Olympics can understand? Does he want to prove something to Triathlon Australia?
My motivation is to represent my country at an Olympic Games, period. In a sport that has given me so much, I really feel I could be a huge asset for Australia in an event like this. I am under no illusions of the enormity of the task, but to be honest, I have achieved all I ever wanted out of this sport and the only thing missing for me is Olympic representation.
Macca feels that he was very poorly treated in 2000 when he was omitted from the team, and deserved his spot in Sydney, but it was not to be. I went on and had my career and have no regrets about the decisions I have made or the career I have had. I achieved everything I ever wanted and really carved out a brand for myself in this sport which is difficult to do. The Olympics at this stage of my career is my real focus.”
McCormack is under no illusions about the road ahead. The current stock of seasoned and up and coming Olympic distance triathletes is incredibly strong. “I don’t think I am a walk up start by any means. I know how fast the Aussies are. Brad and Courtney are well in front of me right now on speed, and the younger boys as well are doing amazing things and are really race primed in this style of event. What I do have is huge experience, an ability to perform when the pressure is on and a focus on this that is keeping me very motivated. It would be wonderful if I make the team. If I don’t I will hold my head up high and be happy that I gave it a try. The old brigade of guys like Benno (Greg Bennett) and Simon Whitfield are all stoked about my decision to come back. They all feel I left short course prematurely. Regardless, it will be fun.”
We wanted to know whether or not McCormack has official support or acknowledgement from Triathlon Australia? To what degree has he spoken to spoken to TA about his plans? “I don’t have any extra support from TA than anyone else. What they have given me is the foundations for what I need to achieve to get into the team. They have been relatively open and helpful. I do wonder if they have any idea of where I am coming from in this transition. They have asked me to start in the Sydney race in 5 weeks time. I will be way off being ready for this event but will dive in the deep end and give it a run. All in all they have been open and said, you meet the standards you are open to selection. Whether they see my experience as an asset in the selection procedure only time will tell.”
With Chris McCormack turning to Olympic distance the sport is going to get more of a media boost than it would otherwise. We wanted to know if there have been any arrangements with government bodies such as Tourism Australia to take advantage of Macca’s media presence. “None whatsoever. I only got confirmation on this decision about a month ago so my entire world has been halted and turned around. I have turned my back on some serious events in Europe where I had huge income earning potential for this shot. I hope we can make this a positive thing and the sport can get some recognition here in Australia.”
McCormack knows what it is going to take to get an Australian to a gold medal performance in London. He knows you need stability and harmony in a team, you need recognition and support from a sponsor base and you really need a group of individuals who are willing to work together in the event for the benefit of the whole team.
Individual racing in championship events is a thing of the past. Look at Beijing if you think I am wrong. Whitfield and (Bevan) Docherty had a team built around them. (Xavier) Gomez was winning everything up to the games and was the overwhelming favourite. Simon Whitfield and Bevan Docherty do a great job leading the culture within the teams they represent. Courtney and Brad have this aura in Australia that’s for sure. It is up to them to inspire and bring a team of guys around them to win. Anyway, the face of the sport at this level is different now. I think I will enjoy this component of the racing more than anything. It will be great to be involved.”
We know this is an obvious question but it has to be asked. How does Macca think he will go against the number of young guys coming through right now who all have their eyes firmly set on making the London team? Guys like Kahlefeldt and Atkinson and the younger guys coming through who are starting to put together 30min 10km runs. Brendan Sexton, James Seear, Dan Wilson, Dellow and Hugget. Also a couple of other guys looking at having a crack at 2012 such as Aaron Royle who ran 3:06/km at Callala Beach triathlon in February and Mitch Robins who is also getting down to those run times.
I am under no illusions just how fast these boys are and want them all to know I respect what they do immensely. I have started this campaign purely as a goal for myself and my family. I don’t think I am a walk up start to the games and I know just how fast this entire group of young guys are. I look forward to racing them that’s for sure. I have a lot of work to do to get that sort of leg speed again.”
It has been 8 years since McCormack has done this style of racing. That is a long time. “I enjoy the process more than the outcome. I think this is where I drive my motivation. I hope to try and equal what these guys are doing. If I can great, if I can’t well that is great as well. I will be trying and that is all that matters to me. Someone is going to the Olympics and you have to be in the game to be selected. Strange things happen in pre Olympic years and pressure cooker situations like Olympic selection and the Olympic games. People break, get injured and crack.
McCormack has been around this style of pressure racing for 18 years. It is second nature to him so he will enjoy this entire process. “All of these guys are great, and as an old bloke it will be enjoyable racing them. I will get just as much out of going to war with them as I will out of any result that may occur. I am at a very different phase in my career. I guess this is like my Triathlon mid life crisis.”
McCormack will be back on the ITU circuit and will smash away at some of the 5150 events (the new WTC format) in the USA. “This new series will really open up my speed and put me in good footing if I want to have a 70.3 focus towards the end of the year.”
We look forward to watching Chris McCormack race ITU over the next two seasons that is for sure!
Macca’s ITU Results
|2004 Tempe ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup
|2001 Toronto ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2001 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2001 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2001 Gamagori ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2000 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2000 Sydney ITU Triathlon World Cup
|2000 Perth ITU Triathlon World Championships
|2000 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1999 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1999 Montreal ITU Triathlon World Championships
|1999 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1999 Gamagori ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1999 Corner Brook ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1999 Big Island ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1998 Zurich ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1998 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1998 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Championships
|1998 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1998 Corner Brook ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Sydney ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Perth ITU Triathlon World Championships
|1997 Monte Carlo ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Hamilton ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Embrun ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1997 Auckland ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1996 Sydney ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1996 Noosa ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1996 Hamilton ITU Triathlon World Cup
|1996 Drummondville ITU Triathlon World Cup