IRONMOB: Six First Nations Athletes Make History at Ironman Australia

Six courageous First Nations athletes, empowered by the IRONMOB Program, are set to inspire as they take on the iconic IRONMAN Australia.

IRONMOB: Six First Nations Athletes Make History at Ironman Australia

Six courageous First Nations athletes are set to make history at the iconic Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie this Sunday, May 5th. The IRONMOB Program, developed by the pioneering First Nations organisation TRIMOB, has been tirelessly preparing these athletes for over a year to take on the gruelling 3.8km swim, 180km ride, and 42.2km run.

As a sports enthusiast and writer, I am deeply moved by the dedication and resilience of these six remarkable individuals: Robert Briggs, Leisa Leon, Raymond Landers, Bobby Maher, Koorinya Moreton, and Oliver Whiteley. Their journey to the start line has been one of unwavering commitment, overcoming numerous challenges and personal growth.

TRIMOB founder Nat Heath, a multiple-time Ironman competitor himself, has been the driving force behind this transformative program. His vision to empower First Nations people through the toughest one-day event in the world is not only inspiring but also a testament to the power of sport in bringing communities together and celebrating shared experiences.

Bobby Maher (R) training for Ironman Australia. Photo: TRIMOB

The IRONMOB athletes' journey has not been an easy one. Each of them has faced their own set of obstacles, both physical and mental, to reach this point. However, their determination to push their limits and redefine what they believe they are capable of is truly awe-inspiring. Koorinya Moreton, one of the six athletes, beautifully encapsulates the impact of the program: "The IRONMOB project has been truly empowering for me. [...] I'm a very different person to who I was 12-18 months ago, in the most positive way possible."

The significance of this achievement extends far beyond the personal triumphs of these six athletes. They are not only representing themselves but also their communities and the rich cultural heritage of First Nations people. By taking on this monumental challenge, they are shattering stereotypes and inspiring others to prioritize their health and well-being.

Bobby Maher's words resonate deeply: "Being a part of the program makes me feel proud to showcase First Nations people as strong, resilient, and capable people. I want to support other mob to participate, have fun in the sport, connect with others, and see what their potential may be."

As the athletes take their places at the start line on Sunday, they will carry with them the hopes, dreams, and support of their families, friends, and communities. Robert Briggs, an embodiment of the "old leather boot tough" spirit, reminds us that DNF (Did Not Finish) is not an option. The time and effort invested in training have been enormous, but the sense of pride and accomplishment that awaits them at the finish line is immeasurable.

The 37th running of Ironman Australia will be a day to remember, not only for the incredible feats of endurance and strength but also for the profound impact it will have on First Nations communities across Australia. As Nat Heath aptly puts it, "This is just the start." The IRONMOB program is paving the way for a future where hundreds of First Nations people will have conquered the Ironman challenge, and where their representation in the sport of triathlon will be a source of immense pride.

To the six IRONMOB athletes: Robert, Leisa, Raymond, Bobby, Koorinya, and Oliver - your courage, resilience, and determination are an inspiration to us all. As you take on the 226km challenge, know that you are carrying the hopes and dreams of your communities with you. Your achievements will echo through generations, empowering others to follow in your footsteps and embrace the transformative power of sport.

Nat Heath racing at the Ironman World Championship in 2015. Photo: Nat Heath

On Sunday, as you cross that finish line on Port Macquarie's Town Green, you will not only be Ironman finishers but also trailblazers, role models and heroes. Your journey has been one of sacrifice, dedication and unwavering spirit and we stand in awe of your accomplishments.

To the TRIMOB and Nat Heath, your vision and tireless efforts to create change and empower First Nations people through triathlon are truly commendable. You are making a difference, one athlete at a time and your impact will be felt for generations to come.

As the sun sets on Port Macquarie this Sunday, six extraordinary individuals will have etched their names in history, not only as Ironman finishers but as beacons of hope, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of First Nations people. Their journey has been an inspiration to us all and their legacy will continue to shine brightly, guiding others towards a future of empowerment, pride and endless possibilities.