Gunnedah athletes claim medals at Gold Coast Triathlon

Gunnedah triathlete Peter Loveridge has won another national title at Southport on the Gold Coast to make it six titles overall throughout his illustrious triathlon career.

Loveridge has won the Australian age group long course title twice and won the Australian Olympic distance age group title three times but until Sunday, February 25 had never won the sprint title.

Loveridge hadn’t always been planning to race in the sprint event on the Gold Coast – he said the shorter distance triathlons don’t “come as naturally” to him – but with the Age Group World Championships taking place on the Gold Coast later this year, the triathlete thought he’d have a crack at qualifying for both the sprint and Olympic distance.

“I thought it’d be good to have two hit-outs and two opportunities at the world champs,” Loveridge, who raced in the 34-39 age group, said.

The sprint would normally consist of a 750-metre swim followed by a 20-kilometre bike ride and finally a five-kilometre run.

Due to the storms that had taken place around the Gold Coast region and some localised flooding, the event was changed to a duathlon format of 2.5-kilometre run, 20-kilometre bike ride followed by a five-kilometre run.

Loveridge set a fast time for the first run before he powered through the field on the crowded bike course and finished up with a speedy last five-kilometre run to win what was essentially a time trial race.

As a professional triathlete in his 20s and early 30s Loveridge’s most memorable win was the Port Macquarie 70.5 winning the open title. However, it was not an Australian title that year.

Other Gunnedah triathletes competed on the day and also picked up medals.

60-year-old John Hickey finished second in his age group (60-64) while Donna Hickey (55-59) and Kelly Watson (35-39) both finished third in their age groups.

Other Gunnedah athletes weren’t as lucky as Matt Fitzgerald was penalised for blocking which cost him a spot in the top five and Tammy White, who returned after the bike leg to find her shoes had gone, ran 2.5 kilometres in her socks until rescued by another former Gunnedah resident Tim Hillard, and his fiancé Lucy, ran to White’s aid and got her a borrowed pair of shoes.

This weekend a range of Gunnedah triathletes, including Loveridge will travel to the Sunshine Coast for the 2018 Mooloolaba Triathlon.

The triathlon is the National Championship Standard Distance Triathlon for age group athletes and another chance for triathletes to press their claims for selection in the Australian team at the world titles.