Gunnedah’s triathletes showed they can mix it with the best in the world at the International Triathlon Union (UTI) World Championships on the Gold Coast.
Donna Hickey and Peter Loveridge led the local charge, Hickey storming home to win silver in the 60-64-years sprint distance event while Loveridge picked up bronze in the 40-44-years in the standard distance (formerly Olympic) event on Sunday.
He had placed seventh in the sprint event on Thursday while partner Kelly Watson was ninth in her 35-39-years sprint race and John Hickey was the fourth to finish in the 60-64-years men’s.
Former Gunnedah local Matt Fitzgerald was meanwhile 17th in a very competitive 30-34-years race - his best-ever performance in a sprint triathlon.
Hickey put in a very strong run leg but just ran out of distance.
“Her effort from start to finish - swim, ride and run - was fantastic,” John said.
“The British girl that beat her gave her a cuddle after the race and said she could see Donna coming through the field at her, and she said she was glad the race wasn’t any longer.”
“She did such a good swim that girl, and got out and got with some younger girls on the bike, and Donna couldn’t reel her back in.”
After a couple of issues at the first transition hampered his race in the sprint, Loveridge was pleased to make amends in the standard event and finish in the podium.
“I was happy to get on the podium. It’s a long time since I’ve been on a podium for one of these,” he said.
Since Lausanne in 2006.
He was the first to finish of his wave and was happy with his race, although he was disappointed, as were many of the competitors, that they split the field into two waves.
“It was a shame not to race head to head,” he said.
He was originally put up as second after a timing malfunction, some of the Kiwi competitor who finished second’s timing checks not coming up.
Loveridge jostled for most of his race with a Belgium competitor.
“We swam together, he got ahead on the bike, but I pulled him back in the run,” he said.
He said in the sprint event, he found himself in a poor position early on in the swim, which meant he was a little bit off the leaders heading into the bike leg.
“In such a short race it is hard to make that up,” he said.
That was only made harder when his shoe came off his bike when he was running out of transition and then the jolt of it hitting the ground jerked the chain off his bike.
“I was still happy with seventh. I had a good run which gave me a bit of confidence for Sunday,” he said.
Hickey is also Watson’s coach and said it was a tremendous effort for her to get into the top 10.
“She had a great run but was pretty much a bit too far behind after the swim,” he said.
“That’s something we have to work on with her is getting her swim up to scratch.
“It’s been working well in training but her open water skills probably aren’t fully complete yet.”
Had she been up with the leaders on the bike he has not doubt she would have finished with a medal.
She backed up on Sunday to place in the top 20 after another very strong run leg.
Hickey ended up being disqualified after incorrectly disposing of a gel.
“It was just a stupid thing to do,” he said.
“I’d used an energy gel and turfed it. You’re supposed to carry them on your body until the finish line and put them into a bin and without thinking I just threw it.
“I actually threw it at a garbage bin as I went past but I doing 45km an hour at the time and I didn’t hit it.”
He was supposed to stop and have a three minute penalty and then continue to race.
“That’s why they disqualified me because I didn’t stop. But there was no way I was going to stop I was racing.
“I had no interest in hanging around to see if I could run 25th.”
“I was with the guys that I race throughout the Australian season plus there were two Americans in the pack, a couple of British guys, and a guy from Belgium and I didn’t want to have a think about whether I could compete with those guys or not I wanted to know so I kept going.”
As it was it was the Australian’s that outran him.
“It gives me a level of where I’m at and gives me something personal to aim for,” he said.