FOR Gunnedah's John Hickey, triathlon has been a lifelong passion.
He has almost done it all in the sport during his 37-year involvement and recently his efforts were recognised.
Hickey was honoured for his services to the sport by Triathlon Australia alongside fellow triathlon legends Bill Davoren and Warwick Brennan.
"I think the most special thing about this award is the fact that someone within Triathlon Australia nominated me," Hickey told the Namoi Valley Independent.
"It was a really big surprise to be nominated, and it takes me back to my first triathlon in 1982 and my first triathlon coaching role in 1985.
"I have made a lot of great, lifelong friends in the sport and it was very humbling to receive this award."
As a competitor, Hickey has claimed gold at the world championships in four different age groups, as well as six silver medals.
"I have a lot of great memories from the sport, including taking part in the first-ever Nepean Triathlon and first-ever Foster Ironman event," Hickey said.
"It's really pleasing to see how far those events have come since those early days."
Hickey himself has had a hand in creating lasting events, his most notable being the annual Gunnedah Triathlon.
"For me, I think it is fantastic that there are several people in our community that have benefited from the triathlon," he said.
"It's a great sport in terms of promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle, so to see so many locals get involved and help promote that message is excellent.
"While I might not be involved with the Gunnedah Triathlon anymore, I take a lot of pride in knowing that it is the second-longest consecutive triathlon event in Australia."
Having spent three years coaching in Ngukurr, an Aboriginal community near East Arnham Land, promoting the sport to the next generation of athletes is high on Hickey's list of future goals.
"I would love to help increase Indigenous participation within the sport," he said.
"There is still a lot left to do and that is certainly high on my list for the next few years.
"As well as that, I am also hopeful of accomplishing a few goals around Gunnedah as well."