On January 11th, the inaugural Australian Para Triathlon Championships were held at Penrith’s International Regatta Centre. Although there no official Achilles teams in action, a number of Achilles members competed with considerable success.
Jonathan Goerlach and his pilot Frazer Dowling won the Australian Championship in the Tri 6 [Male] category, and finished in 4th place overall. This was another impressive performance by Jonathan, following his 5th place in the World Championship in Auckland, as featured in our November newsletter. In that edition, we urged readers to “visit Jonathan’s “Road to Rio” Facebook page. But make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for the visit. It is a fascinating and inspirational collection of challenges, triumphs and setbacks. There are also links to other interesting sites.”
Finishing second to Jonathan in the Tri 6 category was Newcastle-based John Domandl, piloted by Damien Enderby. John, the oldest competitor in the Championships, was actually a shade faster than Jonathan in the swimming and cycling stages but had no answer to Jonathan’s blistering run of 20:15 in the 5K run. Later that day, John flew to Japan for a skiing holiday. On his return, we will be preparing for the Melbourne Ironman Triathlon, which is to be held in March.
Achilles member Lindy Hou [now living in Canberra] won the women’s Tri 6 Australian Championship. [Lindy won a cycling Gold at the Athens Paralympics, followed by Silver and Bronze at Beijing when she was 48.]
In typical Lindy style, Lindy was keen to point out that her pilot at Penrith, Rae Wells, is turning 60 in March and that Rae has been Australia in her age group for several years. Rae is putting her energy into the World Triathlon Championships in London in the 60-64 years category. [Rae also put together the grant application that enabled the birth of the Fit-ability program. The grant, which was approved some nine years ago, enabled Fit-ability to have four custom made tandems. The website for the Fit-ability program is www.fitability.org.au].
I am sure that the three Achilles stars mentioned above will not mind sharing the podium with a newcomer to the sport: Katherine Walshaw. Katherine, guided by Kerrin Ireland, entered the short-course Enticer event, which she completed after 44 minutes of swimming, cycling and running. The duo received a lot of support from the spectators, who were kept informed by the enthusiastic race-announcer. It was a great effort and Katherine and Kerrin will line up at a few more events in the summer.
In addition to the individual competitors, Achilles did have a representative in the relay event, an unofficial category. Lindy’s friend from Canberra, John Barlow,was keen to ride the bike stage, piloted by Elton Ivers, and was looking for help on the other sections.
At a late stage, Ben Phillips volunteered to tackle the 5K run and would be guided by Brian O’Dea. The team was still looking for a swimmer. Race Director Phil Dally cheerfully offered the services of his equally cheerful son, Sam. This young Thorpedo had the fastest swim of the day and led all the competitors out of the water. Elton and John’s bike leg was the second fastest of the day and Ben and Brian, much to their surprise, started their run way-ahead of the rest of the field. It was not to last, of course, and in the run around the rowing-lake about half-a-dozen competitors went past by the time the Achilles pair crossed the finish line.
[The Elton/John cycling combination inspired us to sum up this team effort in the song-titles of the maestro.
Swim: “Madman Across the Water”, Bike: “Rocket Man”, Run: “And the House Fell Down”]
The day provided reward and a lot of fun for all the competitors. This was made possible by the good-humoured efficiency of the organisers and the volunteers. Lindy has pointed out that many triathlons are welcoming para-triathletes into their events. This will provide increased opportunities for Achilles members. We will be keeping members advised.
Our mission is to enable people from all walks of life, including those with physical impairments, to enjoy the health giving benefits of walking and running in a supportive, social and encouraging environment.