Ready and set to tri for gold for Australia
IT'S the reward and epitome of many morning swims, long-distance rides and muscle-cramping runs, donning the green and gold representing not just the Coffs Coast but their country.
Six members of the Coffs Harbour Triathlon Club - Bonnie White, Amy Weber, Sarah Keenan, Richard Hudson, Isaiah Koopmans and Michael Ylinen - are gearing up to represent Australia at the ITU World Triathlon on the Gold Coast from September 12-16.
Sarah Keenan will represent in the 20-24-years women's and is facing a massive schedule, with the sprint distance tri on the Thursday followed by the Olympic distance event on the Sunday.
"I'm feeling pretty good, adequately prepared for the race and my main goal rather than just focussing on a time is to really enjoy it," Keenan said.
"I want to be fit enough so I can look up and just take in all the excitement and the atmosphere of racing, because that's the best part of racing for me."
For the Coffs crew, the annual BCU Tri has proved pivotal in developing their love of the sport.
That's how Coffs teammate Amy Weber, in the 20-24-years Olympic distance, was introduced to competition.
"I found it quite late. I grew up dancing so I had a ballet background and transitioned into running and got involved in the triathlon," Weber said.
"From dancing I draw on the endurance and self-discipline in my preferred event, the Olympic distance."
Isaiah Koopmans is preparing for the under-20s standard distance, having competed for the past five years.
"Tri is simple for me. I like going as hard as I can until I can't push any harder I guess," said Koopmans, who last season ran fourth at the Australian Championship.
"The race course at Southport will come into play a fair bit and I go into it with high hopes to do my best and see how I can go."
Michael Ylinen will represent in the Olympic distance under-19s, looking to recover from a bout of shin splints to deliver his personal best.
"I'm really excited, it's going to be an incredible experience. Due to injury I'm not going to be at the point that I want to be at with my performance, but yeah I'm going to give it my best shot and it's going to be one hell of an experience," Ylinen said.
Teammate Bonnie White, in the 18-19 standard distance event, has also recently returned to training after a big year nursing a hip flexor injury.
"I hope come race day I can find my feet and just be able to run well."
"I'm just rapt to be wearing green and gold."
The elder of the team, Richard Hudson, is a proud Aussie representative who has competed at the Australian aged championships in the 60-64 age group.
"Yeah, it's fair to say I'm the grandfather of the Coffs team, everyone here is way younger than me. Being surrounded by youth keeps me young."
More than 5000 athletes representing 46 nations will take part in the final race of the ITU season.