Last year's result had set an expectation and I could feel the pressure. Wednesday was not the ideal pre race preparation standing in line for over 2hours to collect my race registration after swim familiarisation. The swim course was rather straight forward and with wide turns using two buoys. This allowed for less congestion and a faster swim. To add even more time on my feet pre race, there was the Parade of Nations and Opening Ceremony dinner. Everybody left as soon as the food was served and headed home to prepare for their race.
I sent a text to my parents to come get me and was surprised to see my brother, he had taken a day off to come and watch, thanks bro! I was in bed by 9pm and didn't have to leave my room until 10am for transition. My coach, Graham met me on my way to transition and we had a bit of a chat talking all things race. We had numbered racks so there was no rush for me to enter transition or fight for a good spot. Turning my bike around to rack by the seat, I noticed that the pedals of both bikes on the rack behind were swinging into my wheel and I made an effort to check before pulling my bike out in the race. There were waaay too many thoughts going through my head in the weeks leading up to the race, but when race day came I backed myself, I backed my coach, and I backed my training. Graham and I headed to the swim warm up and put the final touches in place, this was it. 15 minutes before race start I headed to the holding pen and it got rough real quick. As soon as they opened the gates to the pen the shoving was on and I was just getting shuffled through the group. In the chaos I think we knocked over a fence and an official; this was 15 minutes before we even started!
The next 14 minutes were spent crammed and unable to move, waiting for the next gate to open and race to the swim start. I was in about the third row and knew that I would not get to the perfect race position, therefore I made the choice to sprint about 10 metres down the line and get a spot in the front row before everyone who had missed the best spot shuffled down. This worked a treat and I had a decent start position, although it was crammed shoulder to nipple almost side on. I pulled my arms in front so that I could dive right in and get a stroke before the chaos. There came about 10 seconds of silence and then it was on! I was pushed back by the people either side of me and left standing whilst everyone else had dived. The adrenaline kicked in and I took two steps and dived straight on top of them and clawed my way over the top. What? They deserved it!
It was a hectic swim to the first buoy, kicks in the face, tugging ankles, clawing calfs and punching skulls, all the good stuff. Having longer arms I struggled to find enough clear water for a good catch so at the first buoy I decided to roll straight over about 6 people to get to the outside and work my way around the pack. With wind picking up it was a little choppy and I think my long arms gave me an advantage getting that hand well above the water and away from any chop. I was giving it my all as I knew my race would almost be decided by how well I swam. I exited the water in 22nd, hit the timing mat in 17th and transitioned my way to 8th onto the bike, 24 seconds down on the front pack. I put my head down and hammered it taking 2-3km to catch the front pack and joined up the only hill in the area.
From then on I was just rolling turns with the 5 kiwis, making a pack of 6. Almost all of the cheers out on course were for New Zealand, so much for home crowd! I guess I was just hiding the green and gold in a sea of silver ferns. There were two cheer squads that really made an impact though, thank you to whoever was in the cycle turn, you were well and truly heard, also to the entire school lining the fence yelling Go Aussie, you guys are awesome! There must have been a little wind out there as we held high 30’s on the way out and low 50’s on the way back with minimal effort due to the pack working together so well. I surged just before the dismount to bust up the pack bringing it down to 4 of us. Transition had a scaffold bridge for the start of the run and it acted like a springboard if you landed right in the middle of a plank. I did just that and shot a little too high and I swear I felt my hair hit the roof! That made me slow down real quick and I shuffled down the rest of the ramp.
I was exactly where I wanted to be in this race and I started flicking through race plans in my mind and decided to go with the most basic one; go off the front and back yourself. That is pretty much it, I took it out at a solid pace and just held until everyone fell off and I had a solid lead. After a 750m swim, 20km ride and 5km run I had a 34 second lead and took it in going down the finish chute to cross with a time of 57:05 and crowned 2X World Champion for the 16-19yr age group.
To my Coach, Thank you for putting me through the wringer, thank you for pushing me and giving me the confidence I need on race day to give it my best shot. I didn’t give you very long to work with, coming from last seasons results and issues, I took a break and reset. You took me from a low point to where I am in a less then ideal time, we both worked hard and together, team work made the dream work. This is by no means my big goal but it is a tick in the box and a big step in the right direction. Plenty more years of development and fine tuning are needed and I look forward to the journey ahead.
Now these next ones are nowhere near as emotional but nonetheless important. Thank you Adam Gould for your support, encouragement and belief. Fisiocrem, you have had me ready for every race and session for several years now, thank you. To the guys and gals at The Athletes Foot Carindale and YMCA Victoria Point, your support for your community and investment into the future developing young athletes has been invaluable, I hope I do you proud. Thank you also to Redland City Council for your support. Cheers for reading guys and I will be racing this weekend at Robina so look out for more posts.