I did my first triathlon when I was twenty four. I had been running competitively from a young age. Two of my old running friends, Jackie Fairweather (nee Gallagher) and Rina Hill had made the change to triathlon and had also seen great improvement in their running.
With Jackie’s encouragement I began to train on the bike for the National Duathlon Championships. I loved the bike and was a strong rider so after coming back from a 6 months trekking holiday decided to give triathlons a go.
My swimming did not show great potential that my riding did. I was fairly ambitious and chose the Sydney Word Cup in August as one of my first races. I had a very dodgy wetsuit (first lesson in why your equipment does matter) and that, combined with my lack of swimming ability, left me about 50m behind the pack at 100m. I kept working on my swim and finished 7th in my first Noosa triathlon three months later.
Unluckily for a non-swimmer drafting was brought in that year for professionals. I managed to do well in the smaller international races where I could still make up for the time lost in the swim on the bike. As part of my journey to find my roots, I returned to South Africa to race. I was picked in the South African Olympic Squad and spent the next 4 years chasing points in an attempt to qualify for the Sydney Olympics. With a ranking of 27 in 1999 I was selected by the South African Olympic Committee. I finished 30th in the Olympics.
After I retired I settled back in Brisbane and began to coach junior triathletes. I completed my Level 2 Triathlon Coaching Accreditation and my Ausswim qualifications. Some of Australia’s now top athletes began doing triathlons as 10 year olds as part of my very casual squad around that time. Amongst them were Michael Hepburn (Track Cycling – Dual World Championships gold medal winner and silver London Olympics), Ryan Fischer (Triathlon World Cup Winner) and Nicolas Hull (guru triathlon coach). While I can’t claim their sporting success as my own I like to think I had a little to do with them starting in the sport. I also had the pleasure of being a riding buddy for Annabel Luxford (16 World Cup podiums) in her junior years and coached Sarah Deuble (Oceania Cup Championship winner 2012) for six years in running and at the beginning of her triathlon career.
I switched to coaching runners when I was pregnant with my fourth daughter, as this was less time consuming. I now coach around 30 junior athletes, many who are amongst the best in the country. These days I run and ride for vanity and sanity. I still love getting out there and smashing myself trying to beat the kids I coach (with little success).
I guess the one thing that has never changed for me is my sporting hero’s. That is anyone willing to give it a go. I particularly admire people who have no strong sporting history and find themselves embracing the sport of triathlon as mature aged athletes.
By Lizel Moore