Jonathan Goerlach is someone I know well. In 2013 I spent many Wednesday nights with him doing intervals at the Nowra showgrounds as he followed religiously coach Corey Bacon’s instructions and his dream of securing a place at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Jonathan meticulously stretches and warms up prior to each session and sticks exactly to the set he is doing with the single focus of Rio in 2016. Always having to play catch up after the swim his cycling is coming along well but it is his run that sees him home. This is something Chris McCormack found out last February at the Huskisson Long Course after I paired him up to be Jonathan’s guide in a team triathlon. After the race Macca said he was totally surprised to find that he was struggling to keep up with Jonathan. He is capable of running well under 18min for the 5kms which is not bad for someone that can’t see the ground he is running on.
Today Jonathan ran with Daudi Somi at the Australian and Oceania Paratriathlon Championships. We normally see Daudi racing at the pointy end of the local Olympic and Sprint distance elite triathlons. It was great to see Daudi racing as Jonathan’s handler. Both athletes are coached by Corey Bacon of Performance Triathlon Coaching in Canberra.
If Jonathon Goerlach can stay in the race then he will be in the position to win it “that’s the aim of the talented Vision Impaired triathlete who has his sights set on representing Australia at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
The 31-year-old from the NSW South Coast has a simple motto he uses every day: “Swim to stay in it; bike to be in it and run to win it”
Not as easy as it sounds for a man who continues to work on his fear of the water after a near-drowning experience at the age of four.
And couple that with his disability – blindness and lack of hearing caused by the rare genetic disorder Ushers Syndrome and Jonathon Goerlach is a man overcoming the odds to achieve his dreams.
Although unable to see the finish line at today’s Australian and Oceania Paratriathlon Championships at the Regatta Centre, Penrith, Goerlach and his guide, fellow Canberra-based triathlete Daudi Somi, received heroes welcomes when they reached the arch.
He could barely hear the commentator calling his name and his family and friends shouting their encouragement, but the smile on his face said it all.
It was far away the most impressive performance of his career, which has already taken him to the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in 2012.
He was the second athlete across the finish line on a perfect morning at the Regatta Centre, the Olympic rings front and centre “signifying the Sydney 2000 Olympic rowing and canoeing venue.
Overall winner from the Tri1 Class was Australia’s four-time world champion Bill Chaffey who became the first Tri1 (Sitting) triathlete to complete the 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run in under an hour “clocking 58 minutes 20 seconds “the fastest time ever recorded.
For Goerlach and Chaffey, they are well and truly on their way to achieving their dreams of wearing the green and gold in Brazil in two years time.
Chaffey has been the face of Australian Paratriathlon since winning his first World title in 2009 and if Goerlach gets his way then he will be joining the talented Chaffey as our Paratriathletes work towards Rio.
Although for Goerlach, conquering his fear of the water and mastering the 750m swim before he embarks on the 20km bike and five kilometre run, will be his major focus.
At the age of four he had a near-drowning experience in his dad’s backyard and for the next 25-years he didn’t go anywhere near the water.
“I really only started swimming two years ago because of my fear of the water so it’s an area that I have to work on with some one-on-one coaching,” said Goerlach, who will re-locate from the NSW South Coast to Canberra to attend University and train for his tilt at the Paralympics.
“I have to improve my swim “the bike and run are going great and the move to Canberra will be a positive one “so the aim is to improve my swim and to stay in it.”
Goerlach signifies the vast improvement and competitive spirit instilled in Australia’s Paratriathletes “once again led by Chaffey, who admitted he didn’t feel comfortable through the 750m swim, but still produced the fastest time ever recorded for a Tri1 athlete after putting together awesome bike and run legs.
“Although the swim wasn’t great the rest felt really good and any time under the hour you have to be happy with,” said Chaffey.
“It is hard to compare times on different courses and weather conditions even on the same courses but I will take a time under 60 minutes any day.”
Paratriathlon is a sport very much on the move around the world and Triathlon Australia is quickly becoming a world leader in the countdown to the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2016 Games in Brazil.
Today’s fields increased from 18 starters in 2013 to 33 this year and Triathlon Australia is confident that it is only just the start of a major boom in Paratriathlon.
Triathlon results January 12. 2014
Australian and Oceania Paratriathlon Championships, Regatta Centre, Penrith, FINALS:
Tri 1 B Chaffey (58:22) E Horrie (1:09.37) N Beveridge (1:13.21)
Tri2 B Garvey (1:19.14) G Jarvis (1:25.04)
Tri3 A Gibson (1:11.58) M Stark (1:18.12)
Tri4 T Scoleri (1:16.31)
Tri5a Wilkinson (1:08.26) J Godfrey (1:09.09) J Swift (1:09.46)
Tri6a J McClure (1:11.24) N Johnston (1:28.30) B Phillips (1:37.18)
Tri 6b J Goerlach (1:03.40) R Daniell (1:08.47)
AWD J Domandl (1:10.57)
Tri3 D Wendt (1:34.40) J McGowan (1:43.06) G Vassalo (2:14.25)
Tri4 C McLean (1:19.33) S Pilbeam (1:27.06)
Tri6b L Hou (1:24.52) C Hyde (1:34.57)