Almost two years ago, during a training run, one of my guide runners ran me into a large pothole and subsequently I injured my knee. I had to swim for the next few weeks while I recovered from the injury.
I found swimming quite boring, coming from a running background, so to make it interesting I would team up with another swimmer. During one swim session about 6 months later, a swimmer, Troy Grice asked me if I had ever completed a triathlon. I explained that due to my limited swimming experience I had never contemplated competing in a triathlon.
Troy asked if I would consider completing a triathlon with him on the Gold Coast. I accepted his challenge, which unbeknownst to me was the second step in a major chain reaction.
I adjusted my attitude towards swimming, and saw it as part of the process of completing a larger goal. I hadn’t cycled for many years, so quickly built a team of training partners, most particularly Mark L’Hullier who assisted me on my tandem bike.
I completed the triathlon with a few mishaps, which included our swim tether coming loose three times. It was a great experience completing the triathlon, but I was not satisfied with the result. I went on to complete a few more triathlons during 2016 and each time improving the process and the result.
I completed the same Gold Coast triathlon a year later with Mark Turner, and achieved a significant improvement! I was identified as an emerging Paralympic triathlete and was invited to compete in the elite Paralympic Triathlon Series.
The chain reaction saw me step up a new gear in my training and now with Mark Turner as my coach, and goal to represent Australia at the 2017 Paralympic World Championships.
The Chain reaction of a new structure with my swim sessions and cycling, and improving my run off the bike. Now with a new, guide Dmitri Simons, our efforts were rewarded with a win at the National Championships, second at the Oceania Championships, and a bronze medal at the World Cup on the Gold Coast.
The results moved my International ranking from 22 to 12th in the world. However, only the top ten ranked athletes qualify to compete at the World Championships.
I had one last opportunity to improve my international ranking with a good performance at the Canadian World Cup Triathlon, last Friday. The field of athletes was incredible with the current World Champion, and many other former world Championship athletes in my race.
I came out of the swim leg in fourth place, which I was really pleased by as this was my weakest part of the triathlon. The bike course was four laps of a 5Km course which included a 500 meter very steep hill.
Dmitri and I attacked the hill, and instantly our bike dropped the chain to our horror.
Unable to jump back on a tandem bike and start pedalling up a steep hill, Dmitri and I were left to run the bike to the top of the hill. I could hear all the other teams riding past as we were running the bike up the hill.
We mounted the bike at the top of the hill, and knew we had to hammer the next three laps to have any chance of catching these athletes. Over the course of the next three laps of the bike course we were able to catch most of the athletes, but knew there was still work to do on the run leg.
We ran down one other Paralympic athlete in the 5km run, and finished the triathlon in fifth place. The dropped chain on the first lap, I believe created a chain reaction which saw Dmitri and I achieve a new level in teamwork.
The dropped chain cost us a bronze medal, but achieved something more rewarding that often is not visible, and that is a greater sense of working together as a team.
I am excited to say that my result last Friday has resulted in being ranked sixth in the world, and I have been selected to represent Australia at the World Championships in September. Yahoo!
I never thought that a fall in a pothole would lead to a chain reaction where I am now ranked inside the top ten Paralympic triathletes in the world. I believe that this is similar to what we do in our day to day life. The donation we make, or the time we give to lend a hand can be a chain reaction in changing a person’s life.
We are all an important cog in the gears that each of us move through, in reaching our destinations. How we link up and work together is part of the cycle.
My sincere thanks to everyone who was able to link up with me and support my efforts with donation. I appreciate it more than you will ever know!