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Kamal2

Ten Questions with Ex-Hasbeen

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Hello mate, our appointment is anytime today, submit by Monday AM please.

 

 

Today's subject is a humble, low profile kind of guy. He does not in anyway carry a big ego, nor does he in anyway overrate his earlier performances. Yet ex-Hasbeen has actually put up a sequence of wins at age group and even Open Category. This bloke could have gone pro but that probably never entered his mind, or if it did, he was already topped out, then injury hit him early.

 

I think you might see some names roll out here, a look back at the 80's where a few champions were born, and a few more got left by the wayside.

 

Top bloke our subject? I don't know, maybe those that know him will comment. I think he's a normal type guy, interestingly enough, he still wants to get back, maybe even back to elite level, albeit age 51, elite age group.

 

We had a few chats , so that's what I have.

 

Tony Delisser, you are on.

 

 

 

INTRO QUESTIONS.

 

1. Who are you mate? Submit here a personal bio. Where were you born and where do you live now? Schooling and work history, roll it out a bit, talk about your family life.

 

 

 

2. Sports history. Sports played at school and in the early years. Bring that up to the point you found out about triathlon, but stop it there. Give full details on the sports you played and tie it in to triathlon

 

 

 

Mate, work on those and get ready for Ten Questions.

Edited by Kamal2

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TEN QUESTIONS

 

 

1. Tony. You did triathlons at a young age back in the early 80's. 1984, I think your first event. That was for fun, but probably pretty quickly became serious. At what point did it become a serious competitive sport for you?

 

 

2. Mate, you were in Brisbane but the main events were at staged at Gold Coast. I can think of a dozen "names" from the era who might have been around at that time. Who was there? Who were the top guys? And where did you fit in?

 

3. So you started winning your Age Group 20-24, and broke through with some wins in the Open Cat? Was that "Pro", if not explain the difference. Name some of the races and a few highlights.

 

4. Tony. You seem to be fast twitch rather than an endurance type athlete. Yet you easily moved up to the longer distance, had a few good results too. So mate, career highlight No. 1, talk about it now? For one, I reckon forum favorite Tony U., night have been there, so mention that also. Forster IM's '89-90.

 

5. Very impressive mate. So from there you went to Kona and the Worlds? What race was that, you mean with Bevan and Welchy? Talk about it mate, some anecdotes if you have any? EDIT:

Age group World's followed by Kona.

 

6. Tony you appear to have good genetics. Since you do have results on the board, how much do you attribute to genetics vs hard work to the extreme?

 

7. Backtrack a little. Mate, you worked on the road in the outback. Tell us about the training and how you managed that? All solo? How did your workmates take that?

 

8. Mate, 1989, 5 years into the sport, but before Kona and the World's you started to get injuries. So from '89 to 90 you peaked and same time your career came to an abrupt halt. What happened?

 

9. Mate, in our chats you mentioned Trimax and involvement with that. Since I don't know what it is, explain please.

 

10. Tony mate, big pleasure talking to you really, glad to have you on here. Mate, 25 years out of the sport and you tell me you want to get back to Kona. Come on now, aren't there some quite big obstacles there? What about family, you were single back then, are you sure the whole thing will fly? And then the KQ times? What you did in '89 might not get you in even at AG 50-54? Explain please, what are you thinking? Or thinking only?

 

XX...if you did not mention AP, Alan Pitman above, mention him now. AP has a few detractors, yet whenever a person thinks about "HOW WILL I DO THIS" in the sport of triathlon, AP's name comes up. Why?

Edited by Kamal2

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BONUS QUESTIONS

 

 

1. Who wrote** and sang "Pub With No Beer"? Not Slim Dusty ok.

 

**hint, also wrote and sang "Joe the Crow"

 

2. Wally Lewis was the "King" in Rugby League. Who was the undisputed King in RL, 1950's to mid 60's?

 

3. Who were the "Golden Girls" of Aussie women's athletics, 3 names please? Hmmm that might

get confusing because the "Golden Girls" label has appeared in 2 different era's.

 

1950's-60's a 4 time Olympic Gold Medallist, one name will be accepted.

Edited by Kamal2

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First off, I'd like to say thanks to Kamal2 for the honor of joining this small group of Trannies that have been asked to spill their guts on their life in and around the sport. Unfortunately I'm a spectator at the moment, but plan on changing that over the next year. I've put together most I my responses to the 10 Q's now, but will start off with these 2 while I finish the rest off. When I look back at what I've written, two things come to mind. Firstly, I must have had more of that scotch this afternoon than I thought, and secondly, I hope you are ready for a long & winding read. :)

 

Let's go.

 

INTRO QUESTIONS.

 

1. Who are you mate? Submit here a personal bio. Family life.

 

Where were you born and where do you live now?

(Short version - Brisbane, and Brisbane)

 

I was born in Brisbane, the 2nd of 4 kids, in a small hospital at Ashgrove. You won’t find it in any maps of the area these days, as it closed later that year. I then spent the next 28 years in a small house only a couple of km from there. I went to a small local primary school, Oakleigh, and then on to Newmarket High. Newmarket High also closed a couple of years after I left. Writing this down now, and thinking about a few of the places I later worked, this is becoming a very disturbing trend. For my last few years at Ashgrove though, it was really only a “home base” as my work had me travelling a lot around Qld and Northern NSW. Mum still lives in that same house, so I still have a very strong connection to where I grew up. When I started looking for my own house though, as an apprentice I realised Ashgrove was a bit out of my price-range. As any true “Northsider” would realise, this meant I had to go further north. You just wouldn’t live south of the river. I bought a small place just past Albany Creek, but by then I was starting to realise all this working in the country was making me discontent on a small block of land.

I only kept that house for a couple of years, and when the opportunity arose, I bought a 1.5ac block close by, and had a house built. I’m now on my 3rd 1.5ac block, and unless we find something we like more (or my wife just wants to move again J ), I should stay here till I retire. We’re just off Mt Glorious Rd at Highvale, so if you’re going to be riding by, let me know & I may come out to join you, or invite you in for a quick home brew. Unlike the last couple of blocks which were forested, this one was ex-dairy, so to me and my green thumb, it’s a blank canvass. I like to do all the gardening, and as much of the landscaping as I can myself, so that’s another reason not to move, as at 51 it’s getting harder to do everything around a big block. There are over 400 railway sleepers in the retaining walls here, and I dragged each of those around the block & lifted them into position myself.

 

Schooling and work history

(Short version - Primary, High then drop out of Uni. A lot of part-time jobs, Telstra for 30 years, and an Engineering degree by correspondence later in life)

 

As I mentioned before, I went to local state schools. They were both very small, with under 300 students in each. I did very well at school, but unfortunately that didn’t translate into results at University. I did 2.5 years of a Human Movements Degree, planning on being a PE/Maths teacher, but a combination of partying hard, not studying, and deciding I didn’t want to be a teacher saw me drop out. At that stage I had no other plans, but I was already working part time in a running shop, cleaning, delivering junk mail and mowing about 40 lawns, so I was getting by without full time work. My parents had other ideas though. I sat the Telstra apprenticeships exam & got in as an apprentice technician later that year. I worked for the next 12 years travelling around the state installing ABC television and radio transmitters. It was a great job, with a great group of guys. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and the Government decided to put the ABC broadcasting work out to open tender, with no one group allowed to win all regions. As Qld had been through the most recent upgrade program, it was decided that was the safest area to give to a newcomer. I saw the writing on the wall, so applied for a couple of jobs in another area and landed one about 6 months before the Broadcast group folded.

I spent the next 2 years feeling like a prisoner in Woolloongabba Exchange. Imagine working on secluded mountain tops in the most picturesque parts of the state for 12 years, and then being put in a 12 story building with no windows, from sunrise to sunset. It took 2 years, but I got back out as a team manager installing radio transmitters between Charleville & Quilpie in SW Qld. Once this work was over, I tricked my old boss into letting me have a go in a group designing high-speed data products through the network.

Before leaving the Broadcast area, I’d started doing an Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree by correspondence. It gave me something to do rather than sit at the bar all night with the rest of the crew, and I think I was really looking for an interest as I’d recently stopped competing in Triathlon (more about that later). It was the fact that I was doing the degree that got me the spot in Design, and I never looked back. Once I finished the degree, I applied for a job as an Engineer in the Planning group, and I now run that group in Qld. In looking back at my working life, you could say I’ve spent all my life in the one job with Telstra, but with the part time jobs I had, the “very small” business work, and the varied jobs & locations, it’s been a good ride.

 

Family life.

As for family life, I grew up as the second boy, in a family of 3 boys & a girl. We had a home in what is now considered an expensive area of Brisbane, but we would really have been considered lower middle class. As a first year apprentice I was earning the same as Dad was, and Mum hadn’t worked since her first child. It amazes me how they brought us up, with regular holidays (and even a beach house at Bribie for a while) and not doing without any essentials. Then again, essentials were a bit different then to “essentials” now. We were always an active & sporting family, but I suppose that’s how you made your own fun back then. Dad raced motorbikes and go-karts early on, and maybe that’s where we all get our thrill for speed & determination to win from.

My older brother and I have always been very competitive. A few of our mates used to refer to it as one of “sport’s great rivalries”. My sister was probably the most successful of us all in sport, having played volleyball & touch football in state teams. Dad always complained that his boys shaved their legs, and his daughter played football for Qld. We were all quite competitive though in most sports we dabbled in, and we just picked those we were better at to concentrate on. My older brother was a VERY good fisherman (to the point of winning thousands in prizes & writing columns), a very good junior snooker player (have we found a real sport yet), and when I got in to Triathlons, he learnt to swim at 22, and followed me. He later went on to do very well in his Masters categories at surf swimming in the State SLSA championships. Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks. As a family, we were often referred to as “The Flying Delissers”. It came from my old boss at The Run On Down in Brisbane, and came about after our 3rd win in the Family teams section at the Noosa Triathlon.

These days, my family consists of my wife and 2 kids, a 19yr old daughter and 13yr old son. None of them have any interest in sport, so after a number of years of trying to spark it, I’m now resigned to the fact I won’t have a family training partner.

 

2. Sports history. Sports played at school and in the early years. Bring that up to the point you found out about triathlon, but stop it there. Give full details on the sports you played and tie it in to triathlon

 

I grew up playing rugby league as a kid, but never really got past the school team. We were quite successful though, and with a very small school we beat all the schools with up to 4 times our numbers to regularly get to Interzone finals. It helped though to have someone like Michael Hagan playing inside me at 5/8.

I was always a bit of a fish as a kid. I loved swimming, and as both my primary & high schools had pools, I became quite handy in the water. I was never a "top class" swimmer, and only swam in my school clubs, but managed quite a few trophies over the years. I was actually told the other day I still have a club record for 50m backstroke at one of my old clubs (it's not that impressive though).

I was never a runner at primary school, but I think that was more a case of not having any events longer than 400m. Once I got to High School I managed 2nd in the school X-country for 4 out of the 5 years. I also managed to qualify for the States through regionals, but never got any better than about 20th. It was my science teacher, who coached the school cross-country team that burgeoned my love for distance. Rather than have us running round an oval, or pounding pavements, he’d take us to a golf course or bush track to train. By mid way through high school, I realised I had a natural tendency to go long. During my last couple of years at school I started doing fun runs. I did quite well, and over the next few years managed a few podiums etc to keep me interested. Like swimming, I think I was good, but not great.

I was always very small, so rather than continue with rugby league, I got into touch football. I played A-grade in Brisbane for a number of years, and used it to supplement my fitness once I got into Tri's. Two hard games of touch after a 10km fun-run was a perfect Sunday training session.

As far as other sports, I've won a few club fishing titles, played squash (also for fitness), and have now & then dabbled in cycling for a few seasons, both recent & 25 years ago. Of the 3 sports that make up triathlon, I think cycling is the most fun (even though it’s probably my weakest) as it’s not just a matter of going as hard as you can from the start to the finish. It’s the tactics, the thinking and the ability of the weaker rider to beat the stronger ones by using his mind rather than his legs that attracts me to it.

If I looked at the boxes in the shed I’d probably have trophies for over a dozen different sports. I'm probably one of those lucky ones that can pick up most sports quickly, and play respectably. I've always enjoyed being able to do that, but I think a lot of that is tenacity rather than any huge lump of natural ability.

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Sorry Kamal2, but this is going on longer than either of us probably planned. Maybe it's because I'm a Triathlete at heart, and we all know what our favourite topic to talk about is. :)

 

1. Tony. You did triathlons at a young age back in the early 80's. 1984, I think your first event. That was for fun, but probably pretty quickly became serious. At what point did it become a serious competitive sport for you?

My first race was one of the first in Brisbane, at Qld Uni in 1984. It was very low key and I can hardly remember anything about it. I actually think I was still hungover from a Uni party the night before & got dared into doing it. I then went up the coast & did the State Championships at Mooloolaba the same year. I came in around mid-field but had a ball, especially riding past all the people pushing their bikes up the mountain/hill to Buderim.

 

The first race I really "raced" at was part of the State Tri Series. I'd been doing a lot of fun-runs in those days, and getting some podiums, but was starting to have recurring problems with shin splints. I was doing a bit of cycling for therapy & to keep fitness. At the time I was working part time in a running shop (Run On Down), and the owner suggested I try this race, as he knew I'd been a swimmer at school. The race was at Koralbyn Valley, SE of Brisbane, so a few of our group from the shop headed down and made a weekend of it. It was supposed to be 1.5/40/10. I think it was a little short, however the road was shocking, with cattle grids and the cattle to go with them on the road. I came home in 10th overall out of about 100, and got 3rd in my AG with a 2hr 2min time. That was the start of my addiction. I followed the series around that year, and by the end of the season, I'd clocked up a couple of outright podiums and 1st in the 20-24 AG at a most of the series events. We were also chasing any other race we could at the time, and I think I would have done about 25 races a season those early years. The next year I won my first race, the state series race at Emu Park, and got podiums at a number more. I actually beat Miles Stewart at that race, though he was only 16 at the time.

 

Although by then it was a serious sport, it never stopped being fun. Most races involved some sort of party after. We would either stay wherever we were another night, or have drinks after then get a lift back home. Most of our social lives revolved around the sport as well. Most of our friends & girlfriends raced, so parties would be the same old crew, and trips away became big social events, I suppose like they are now.

 

 

 

2. Mate, you were in Brisbane but the main events were at staged at Gold Coast. I can think of a dozen "names" from the era who might have been around at that time. Who was there? Who were the top guys? And where did you fit in?

This was an era when there really were 2 regional groups of athletes. I got to race against the Qld guys all the time. Not just AGers, but everyone, because in those days there wasn’t really a distinction (more on that later). The other group were the Sydney athletes. The only ones of these we really got to see were the bigger names, like Foster, Unicombe, Southwells, etc when they would come up here for the bigger races.

 

When I first started really racing, there were guys like Greg Reddan, Shane Norton, Matt Braban and Andrew Steele up here. These guys were some of the first I noticed out front, and were a step up from the rest of the field. In the mid 80’s I was coming in behind these guys, in a cluster of 2nd tier athletes. As I started improving a bit more, I pulled away from most of those guys, but there were other young guys coming through. One of my best mates at the time was Troy Fidler. We did a bit of training and a lot of partying together. His & my girlfriends at the time were best friends, so we saw an awful lot of each other. Craig Maskiell was another young gun back then who I think could have done anything the others did. Instead he went on to do Physio & Medicine at Uni, and life took him away from the pointy end of the sport. Nick Croft came from nowhere as a junior to burst on to the scene in the late 80’s. All the others, I can remember beating a few times as they got older & faster, but never Nick. From the first time I saw him he was beating me. Miles is another big name from the era. I trained with his Dad’s squad for a while, and I can still hear the squeaky voice of a 15yr old Miles on the back of Col’s motorbike telling me to “bridge the gap” on a climb up Beechmont. He was great motivation for me till he was about 16, then he just got too fast too quick.

 

There are just so many names that meant something in those days, that if you weren’t there you wouldn’t have a clue: Hell I’m one of them.

  • Angus Charlton: He was 6ft 8in, could ride a TT with the best, and then hang on for grim death in the run. One of the better AGers at the time, and has stayed in the sport organising races. He was our “father figure” when he, Troy & I spent a while in NZ, travelling, training & racing.
  • Glenn Forbes: From the GC, he was another on that 2nd tier just below the top guys. He’d podium a bit and race & party hard. He stayed involved in the sport in a clothing business.
  • Greg Brown: Also just below those top guys. He was a yank out here training on the GC for a few years. The locals would remember him well.
  • Mark Doyle: A Sydney boy come up here to the GC for a better lifestyle.
  • Jan Wanklyn: One of the last girls to “chick” me. She raced a lot on the GC & around SE Qld.
  • Liz Hepple: She was a cross country runner turned cyclist. She race the women’s TdF before switching to Triathlon. She was very successful up here. We shared a Unit with a few other Brisbanites at Kona, but she had troubles in the run and finished the race in the back of an ambulance.
  • Barry & Julie Voevodin: They were best known as the entrepreneurial couple who organised the World Cup races on the GC, bringing the finest athletes from around the world to race on our doorstep. To locals though, they were just another couple who loved triathlons, and dabbled in racing themselves.

If you really must know where I fit in, I think it’s what you would now refer to as 2nd tier pro, or top Ager. I won a few races outright, podiumed a lot, but rarely against the top tier. If they had a bad day, and I had a good one, it might be close, but we were 2 different standards really. There were always other Agers that would knock me off, and there was probably a group of around 6 or 7 in SEQ that were at this level, with another dozen that could surprise you on a good day. One of the things I loved about all of this though was that we were all great friends, and any rivalry disappeared as soon as you crossed the line. The top guys would regularly train together, and I think this is one off the things that helped drive our competitiveness.

 

3. So you started winning your Age Group 20-24, and broke through with some wins in the Open Cat? Was that "Pro", if not explain the difference. Name some of the races and a few highlights.

I started racing at 20yrs. It took a year before I started getting results, but by the end of my 2nd season, I had notched up a couple of AG podiums. I got real serious in about ’87, and it was from then on that I really focused on the sport. That year I won my AG and podiumed outright in a few of the Shaklee State Series races, and when we went up to do the event at Airlie Beach, the promoter of the series came up & asked if I wanted to enter “Pro”. I think there were 2 reasons behind this. They had a very small pro field, and it was obvious I was going to beat most of them, and that wouldn’t look good. His partner was also leading the overall AG point score, and I was close behind. There was only 1 overall prize, a trip to the US, so I think she may have been getting worried. I said no, and went on to come 2nd outright in that race.

 

That was the thing in those days, there was no “Pro” license, and you could decide race by race whether you competed for money or trophies. And a lot of the time, the money was simply not there to make a living out of it. Guys like Shane Norton would hold down a full time job, then compete & win on the week-ends. And it wasn’t cushy swim coach jobs. He was a brickie. It was the same right through to 1990, where the 3 top yanks in my AG at the Worlds had all raced pro that year, but as they didn’t make the pro team, decided to do the worlds as AGers.

 

I have a lot of great memories of races in those times. Some of my favourites involve the 4th leg, but what happens on tour, stays on tour, so we won’t go there. Other than to say, we were lucky booze busses didn’t exist in those days. One of the best races I did was a regular event on Stradbroke Island. It was held on the Queen’s Birthday weekend at Stradbroke, so it involved a weekend away with a ferry trip to get there. We’d generally stay at the Point Lookout Hotel, about 10 to a room, and end up sprawled out on to the lawns outside to get some room to sleep. It was a good honest race, with a surf swim, a hilly ride on rough bitumen, and then a run that often incorporated sand. I came 2nd, 4 times at Straddie, to Troy, Nick, and Shane. There was always one of them there to knock me off, but I loved that race.

 

One of my biggest wins was a big race at The Pines on the GC. It was a great site for races, with a big hill on the bike & a flat run. I would have preferred it the other way around, but I got by. I surprised myself with that one. I had a couple of other wins, but my “highlights” would be the State Series wins in 87 & 88 (I ended up equal for that trip to the US, so they gave us both a trip to NZ), an outright win in the State Series race at Emu Park (Yepoon), and 12th at Forster IM. I raced a few times OS, doing 2 of the NZ national series and picking up 7th & 6th, then at the end I did the AG Worlds in Florida getting 12th. My last race in that era was Kona, where even though in my mind I failed, I have to count it as a highlight, because for the last year, that was all I was concentrating on.

 

I suppose I have one more highlight to mention these days. At about 40, I realised I was not the person I’d thought I’d grow up to be. I was 99kg, and was starting to have difficulty playing with the kids & working in the yard. After growing up the skinny kid, I was now a fat lump. I decided then I wasn’t going to get to 100kg, so started doing a bit of exercise. It took a while, with multiple small injuries, and the probable reason for that was my mind was cashing cheques my body couldn’t cover. I eventually convinced myself I was fat, so couldn’t run fast, and I slowed down. It took a couple of years, but eventually I could run again. I was riding a little, so decided I’d do a few swim sessions & enter a HIM. Well, from 99kg to 83kg in 3 years, and I got 5th in my AG. One of the things I loved about it though was that exhilarating feeling you get racing, and I realised how much I missed that. The other thing I noticed was that in the biggest AG on the day, I had the only steel bike in the racks, & it beat 95% of the carbon steeds.

 

 

4. Tony. You seem to be fast twitch rather than an endurance type athlete. Yet you easily moved up to the longer distance, had a few good results too. So mate, career highlight No. 1, talk about it now? For one, I reckon forum favorite Tony U., night have been there, so mention that also. Forster IM's '89-90.

You’re probably half right about me being “fast twitch”. I’m certainly no sprinter, when you compare me to runners or cyclists, but I could outsprint or outkick most triathletes when it came down to it. Part of that though may be the ability to dig deeper than most people think they can, an ability than transcends into IM as well. I think most Triathletes who are MoP or back of FoP, don’t realise how deep you really can go if you want to. You just have to want to, and the best way to find out just how deep you can go is by racing. And by that I mean every week. We raced every week, whether it was a triathlon, a bike race or a fun run. Often it would be a crit Saturday morning, then a Fun Run or Triathlon Sunday. I don’t mean just turning up and rolling round either. You give your best & try to win at all of these.

 

Olympic Distance was a standard race back then. More than half the races were 1.5/40/10. I think I did slightly better at the shorter ones, but not by much. When I stepped up to IM, it was a combination of a couple of things. I’d always watched it on WWOS on TV, and in 89 I started getting back problems when running fast. I started to think about IM, as the problem didn't surface at anything slower than 4min km's. I did Forster that year on strictly OD training, and blew out badly in the run. I went back the next year with a lot more bike distance under my belt (though I still never trained more than 17km on the run) with the intention of beating the course this time. I wasn’t really focussing on the people there, and as AP would say, I was looking at my own square metre. Well, I got out of the swim with the first real pack. There were a couple of faster individuals, but this group was going to form the basis of the front of the race. It held as a loose pack of about 10 for most of the way, with a couple of guns like Cedaro going off the front, and a few others dropping off. I don’t think there was much illegal drafting in this pack, but then in those days the drafting distance was a bit shorter than it is now.

 

I held on till most of the way back on the last loop, then got a slow leak in my tyre. Rather than change it, I just pumped it up, which I had to do again before the end, but it was quicker than changing it. I got on to the run just after 6hrs in & took off at about 5min/km pace. I was struggling a little midway, but after downing a few cokes (no such thing as gels back then) I picked up & ran the last 10km in just over 40min. I passed 7 or 8 others in that last 10km, and felt like I could have gone another 10 at the same pace. Crossing the line in 12th place, running that fast & feeling so good is an experience I’ll never surpass. The fact that my brother was also racing and my parents, who rarely got to come to a race, were there made it even more special. As far as TU, I don’t think he raced in 1990. He’d come top 10 the year before, but I hadn’t seen much of the Sydney guys, so didn’t really notice who was & wasn’t there.

 

 

5. Very impressive mate. So from there you went to Kona and the Worlds? What race was that, you mean with Bevan and Welchy? Talk about it mate, some anecdotes if you have any? EDIT:

Age group World's followed by Kona.

1990 was the first year I’d actually heard about the AG World Championships. I think the year before had been the first time they’d been held. Well, in those days there were no qualifying events. You had to send a list of your results away to the team organisers (did TA exist), and they picked the best 5 in each AG. I was heading over to Kona in October, so thought a stopover in Florida would be a great way to experience the Worlds. As a kid, as most Australians do, I’d dreamed of wearing the green & gold for my country. This was my big chance. I sent off, and a couple of weeks later I was in. It was a pretty good team. The Pro’s included Welchy, Bevan, Foster & Braban, and the women Liz Hepple & Michellie Jones. In my AG were guys like Phil Gabel & Spot Anderson. When we got there, I couldn’t believe the heat & humidity. It was very much like Cairns, though maybe even hotter. A lot of people had trouble that year, especially some of the Aussies coming from our winter. I was lucky, having been working in North Qld for the previous couple of months, so that worked to my advantage. I had a bad swim, but in the heat managed to come back in the run & finished in 12th. I was pleased with that, but had secretly been hoping for top ten.

 

As far as anecdotes, I did mention somewhere that “what happens on tour stays on tour”, but I’ve got a couple of photo’s, tame ones, that sum up our team. One is the Junior team’s room at Orlando. You would swear a bomb went off in that place. I think for most of them it was the first time they’d been anywhere without their mum there to clean up after them. The other was the US team rooms. They had a sign up out the front saying “US Triathlon Team”. One of our guys had slipped in during the night and replaced Triathlon with Wanking. Hell to pay the next day, but I think most of the athletes got a photo of that one. The celebrations after presentation were great. Taking 1,2,3, and winning 3 of the 4 teams events, the Aussies partied pretty hard. Presentations were held at a likely named part of the Disney World Resort named “Pleasure Island”. It was a gated part of the resort that was made up of nightclubs, bars & sidewalk liquor sales. It was perfect for a big night, and it didn’t let us down.

 

From Florida, I flew out to Kona. It was great getting there 3 weeks before the race. We had a chance to see the place before the crowds really arrived, and with the time in Florida, and now Kona, we got to acclimatize well beforehand. As far as the race goes, to cut a long story short, I went too hard too early. I was still in front of the lead pro women at 100km, then tried to stay with them when they went past. I got cramps toward the end of the bike, and felt that delirious I tried to run out of transition without shoes on. I was walking by 2km, and walked most of the hills, but similar to Forster, I came good towards the end. This time however, I was too far back. I ran 3:50 for a 10:13 to come in just over the 100th place target I’d set myself.

 

A few of the standout things for me in that race were the sheer numbers, both competitors & spectators. It was so much more than anything I’d seen before. Then the water. Swimming straight out for 2km, and being able to see the bottom, even though it’s incredibly deep was fantastic. Then the bike. There are just so many riders out there that can ride fast. And I mean fast. And did I mention the crowds? There’s an intersection out on the bike, in the middle of nowhere where you turn to start heading to Hawi. The crowd was 3 deep for 500m. This is the middle of a lava field with nothing else around. Then the run. The adrenaline was just phenomenal. That year was a different T2 to most, and you started south of Kona at a resort. They ran you up a hill, then down the other side to the south. Then you have to run straight back up that same hill. The guy who designed that loop should be shot. The run back to the town was great, but that climb from the pier area up to the highway was something else entirely. I think I mentioned somewhere about the crowds. This hill was 5 deep both sides of the road, cheering their hearts out. It’s so hard to walk, when thousands are cheering for you to run.

 

Come the finish line, and there really is no feeling like it. I can fully understand how some like to wander back & forward, running the chute a number of times. It was awesome. Like most of my mates, I got out of medical pretty quick, a couple of girls we’d met while over there grabbed us some pizza & beer, then we settled in for a long night of cheering everybody else in. Probably the most memorable thing I saw that night on the finish line, was Welchy. He’d come 5th that day and about 10pm that night was running around with beer in hand, using a blow-up dolphin between his legs to lift girl’s skirts. I think the rest of the pro’s had gone to bed by then. Then at presentation, we got a table full of Aussies near the front. By the end of the night, the people going up on stage were taking the long way around so they didn’t come near us. We weren’t abusive, just very, very loud, and there was one of my mates (had been a gymnast) walking along the tabletops on his hands.

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Part 3 for those who haven't nodded off yet.

 

6. Tony you appear to have good genetics. Since you do have results on the board, how much do you attribute to genetics vs hard work to the extreme?

I mentioned it earlier, but I think it is a combination of both, and a third factor, upbringing. All of my family did well at sport. You could argue then, that it was genetics. But then look at the diversity of those sports. One brother was very good at fishing & snooker, for my sister it was touch football & volleyball, and my younger brother it was cricket & hockey. I think it was the environment we were brought up in that contributed to a lot of it. There were lots of kids our age in the local neighborhood. During school holidays, rather than bunker down with video games like kids do now, we’d set up a mini Olympics, with dozens of sports and a score tally across the lot. The rest of the year, every afternoon after school would either be football or cricket in the front yard, or on to the BMX bikes and off to the bushland behind. That’s just how I grew up.

 

I think AP would agree with me here where I say mindset is another big factor. In my lead-up to Forster in 1990, I was training with a good mate Barney. When I was in Brisbane, we’d meet at a certain spot every morning for our ride or run. I missed one morning in 4 months. I was also travelling a fair bit at that stage. I was living in pubs, with guys that drank till closing time each night, yet went 3 months off the booze. You have to decide up front what you want, then go out & get it.

 

Hard work, that’s a big one. Yes, I put in a lot of hard work. At the time though, I don’t think you realise that. I rode nearly every morning before work. I enjoyed that though. It felt good getting to work knowing you’ve already done 3 hours training. I swam a lot of afternoons. I enjoyed that as well. I’d been doing that since I was a kid, & it felt, right? I ran the other afternoons. This I really loved. I did all my running in the forest, with a competitive group of friends. We had our own “strava” like records for the various runs, and used to do sub 4min km runs as a normal training session. It was fun. So yes, I think hard work had a lot to do with it, but to me at the time, it wasn’t hard work.

 

Genetics does come into it as well though. There has to be something in it, but I think in a lot of cases it’s overrated. Yes genetics can predispose you to particular sports, or particular distances, but with the right upbringing and attitude, anyone can be good at something.

 

 

7. Backtrack a little. Mate, you worked on the road in the outback. Tell us about the training and how you managed that? All solo? How did your workmates take that?

As I mentioned earlier, I traveled a lot with work. It depended on the project at the time, but it would either be longer stints in the provincial cities, or short stints travelling between smaller towns. Those trips would generally be about 5 weeks at a time, then I’d be at the Brisbane depot for about the same time. I found unique ways of working my sport around the job. Whenever I travelled, I would do what I could to get the bike on to the truck, or on the roof of the wagon. This let me continue training no matter where I was. When we were moving town I used to set off on the highway at around 3am, and the guys in the truck would catch me around 5 hours later. I'd throw the bike in the back & get a lift to the next site. I've gotten to know most of Qld's small towns quite intimately, running multiple laps around them at sunrise. It really is a good way to get to know your state. Most Qld towns have got a pool as well, & I could often talk the manager into allowing me to let myself in early to get some laps done before work. It’s that old adage, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

 

It could be difficult training though when you're living in pubs with a group of guys who love a drink. They were very understanding though, and were helpful with making sure there was room for my gear when we traveled. They would even rock up on Sunday mornings to watch if I was doing a race at a local town. We really were a tight knit bunch working and living in that environment, so I couldn’t have imagined them reacting any differently.

 

It was when I spent any time at home though that I made my big gains. I would really blast the training, swimming with Michael Bohl's squad, riding every day and running with a group of hard core bush-runners in Bunya Forest. Unless I was settled in a place for more than a couple of weeks, it really was maintenance mode, waiting for my next stint at home.

 

 

8. Mate, 1989, 5 years into the sport, but before Kona and the World's you started to get injuries. So from '89 to 90 you peaked and same time your career came to an abrupt halt. What happened?

It’s funny really, because I first got into the sport because of injuries while running (shin splints). Well 5 years later, and I was starting to get back problems doing Triathlons. I’d had a knee problem the year before, and that’s probably the reason I never took a year off work to race full-time. That had always been my intention, but having that injury, and a month off made me realise how important a good job was. Well, my back was spasming now, but only when I ran fast. I could run all day at 4min pace, but as soon as I cranked it up from there it would go. I tried everything, but to no avail. I decided that if I couldn’t race fast, I’d race long, where I didn’t have to break 4min/kms. My first attempt fell in a screaming heap, but I went back better prepared & managed to KQ.

 

It wasn’t the injuries that led to me leaving the sport. I think I’d just decided subconsciously that it was time to go. Like I mentioned elsewhere, I’d always had a dream of representing Australia. On top of that, the previous 12 months had been focused on racing Kona. Within a 4 week period, I’d fulfilled both dreams. I really had no back-up plan for what to do once that was over. I got back home & decided to take a month or 2 off, as I’d been training pretty much on my own for the whole of winter. Six months later, and the season was over & I hadn’t raced. I also had a serious relationship which had just commenced a couple of weeks before I’d gone overseas. I think a combination of these things led me out of the sport, and even though I hung on the outskirts for a couple of years, helping to organise races, I never really got back in.

 

 

9. Mate, in our chats you mentioned Trimax and involvement with that. Since I don't know what it is, explain please.

Trimax was a corporate name my friend & I went under when we started organising races in SE Qld. In about 86, we started selling bike gear at races & by post. We were both very well known locally, and a little entrepreneurial in nature, so decided there was some money to be made selling components, clothes & bikes. This was before the days of the internet, so it was a fairly out there thing. We started to pick up a bit of custom, when one of the up and coming Triathlon shops in Brisbane decided we were taking to much of their trade. They got on to the wholesalers we were using & threatened them that if they kept selling to us, they would take their custom elsewhere. With no local suppliers, and still too small at that stage to go further afield, that business dried up. That though was the start of our future “business relationship”.

 

A year later, there was talk of trying to form a triathlon club in Brisbane. Whilst there were a lot of triathletes here, all the real action was happening down the coast. With the club starting, the next thing was to organise races. Angus & I got together with his girlfriend & my sister, and put together the first of our races. It was very low key, mainly entries on the day, and went without a hitch. We were hooked. We started organising a few more, and helping the club with theirs. We found a very keen sponsor in Roy Henzell, from Pelican Waters at Caloundra, and it grew from there. We ran a series of races at their canal estate, and some races of over 500, which was big in those days. After a couple of years though, my travel with work started to make it too hard to keep on with the business, and Angus took over. He eventually got out of the race promotion area and became one of the most prominent behind the scenes organisers in Qld. I think some of my favourite memories of those early days were the all-nighters we used to pull, sleeping in the car or tent to save money on security to watch the gear we’d set up.

 

 

10. Tony mate, big pleasure talking to you really, glad to have you on here. Mate, 25 years out of the sport and you tell me you want to get back to Kona. Come on now, aren't there some quite big obstacles there? What about family, you were single back then, are you sure the whole thing will fly? And then the KQ times? What you did in '89 might not get you in even at AG 50-54? Explain please, what are you thinking? Or thinking only?

This is probably the big one here. Can I get back up there. Yes I’ve had 25 years away from the sport, but I was fast enough to KQ as a 26yr old, so why won’t I have the same ability to do that as a 50yr old? Yes there are a lot of obstacles. I’ve got a family now, a few injuries, responsibilities and a job with a lot of stress. Here's my take on that:

  • My daughter is at an age now, where although she causes a lot of stress at home, is just about independent, has her own car, and we can do what we want without having to involve her.

     

  • My son has just started high school. This is probably the biggest anchor to competing. There are a lot of things we have to do that revolve around him, but he’s getting to the age where he doesn’t want to get up till late on the weekends. That makes it easy to schedule a long ride on Saturday or Sunday.

     

  • My wife: well that’s a bit different. We had a lot of financial issues a number of years ago, so even though I earn well now, we are still behind the eight-ball. I feel guilty spending money on my sport, including physio etc. Hopefully another year or two will see us in better shape, and I won’t feel so bad.

     

I’m gradually working through the injuries. The knee is the real issue, with patella tracking syndrome caused by what seems like a lot of hip and back issues, it’s been slow going. I’m back to the point now where I can ride to work every day, but running is still an issue. It’s amazing how long injuries take to heal as you get older. This is the same problem that took a month to get over when I was in my early 20’s.

 

 

I think my job actually helps me now. Yes it can be stressful, but I find exercise the perfect counter for this. As far as fitting it around my current life, it’s not that hard when you really think about it. Before the knee went, I was riding to & from work, with the occasional long ride before work. These would be reps of Mt Coottha, a long 100km ride, a TT at Nundah, or just a simple recovery. If I use public transport to get to work, it’s 3 hours return. I can use that time to train on the bike. You just don’t waste it with rubbish miles. I would also swim on the way in to work a couple of days a week, and would run at lunch. Saturday mornings would be a long run in the forest and be home before the next person in the house woke, and Sunday would be a long ride, leaving real early & getting home around 8am. There was very little extra time away from the family, and I could get 15 to 20 hours in a week if I wanted.

 

KQ: It’s a dream, yes. It’s a goal, yes. Is it achievable? Of course it is. Realistically, the only thing holding me back is the knee. It’s not degenerative (yet) so I won’t give up. As far as times go, I figure I need under 10hrs (please don’t tell me I’m wrong) in my current AG, and not much slower at 55. I know I can still bring the swim in under an hour with little training, and faster if I make a real effort. That gives me 5:20 for the ride, which realistically is quite doable, then a 3:40 run. This will be the tough bit, but with a good lead-up, the right preparation, and good nutrition on the day (not to mention a bit of luck), it is still well within the realms of possibility. Of course if I go to Melbourne, just take 20min off the ride target. :)

 

 

 

XX...if you did not mention AP, Alan Pitman above, mention him now. AP has a few detractors, yet whenever a person thinks about "HOW WILL I DO THIS" in the sport of triathlon, AP's name comes up. Why?

I think I mentioned him a couple of times. He was at Forster the year I went well, and we’d done dozens of the same races to that stage. Al was one of those guys we always thought “he does pretty well for an old bastard”. I suppose he still does. There’s got to be something said about his longevity in the sport. He may not have ever been at the very peak of the sport, but has been at that next step for the such a length of time. It says a lot for the way he approaches the sport, and I suppose if you want to get to Kona, he’s the man who knows how.

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Forgot the bonus questions.

 

1. Who wrote** and sang "Pub With No Beer"? Not Slim Dusty ok.

**hint, also wrote and sang "Joe the Crow"

 

I’ll admit I Googled this one, but not the others. Gordon Parsons wrote & sang A Pub with no Beer. If you hadn’t given the “not Slim” hint, I would have got it wrong. I grew up with this song on a 45 at home. Mum still has it at her place. I suppose I could have just dropped in to check the credits on the label.

 

 

2. Wally Lewis was the "King" in Rugby League. Who was the undisputed King in RL, 1950's to mid 60's?

 

That would have to be Johnny Raper. Whilst a Qlder through & through, I’d still have to say he was a legend.

 

 

3. Who were the "Golden Girls" of Aussie women's athletics, 3 names please? Hmmm that might

get confusing because the "Golden Girls" label has appeared in 2 different era's.

 

Shirley Strickland, Marjorie Jackson & Betty Cuthbert. I hope I got the right era here?

 

 

1950's-60's a 4 time Olympic Gold Medallist, one name will be accepted.

 

Dawn Fraser

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No on Johnny, he was of course a legend at No.8.

 

The guy I had in mind by the last name (gave it away now)might have a similar to you, French-Belgian last name.

 

Marlene Mathews because Jackson was a few years ahead of the others, but accepted.

 

 

Did Dawn win only 4 inc relays? Actually I meant Betty Cuthbert but the description seems to fit both.

Edited by Kamal2

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Haven't had a chance to read this yet but Kamal2 I'm marking you down for overuse of the word mate ;)

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Great read Ex.

 

Funny reading about Matt Braban. When he's not broken, Matt still races up here from time to time and keeps all the young bucks honest. He's a tripper though.

 

A few years back we raced the Yeppoon HIM together. I was racing my first half and had only done a couple of ODs. I sort of knew that Matt had been a fair athlete back in his time but didn't really know how good. Anyway, we're wandering around the expo and he's asking my advice on this and that (he'd never worn a tri suit before and wanted to know if they were any good!) Here's me, 5 minutes in the sport being asked for advice from a guy that went to the first World Championships!

 

He's still scarily quick though.

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Great read Ex.

 

Funny reading about Matt Braban. When he's not broken, Matt still races up here from time to time and keeps all the young bucks honest. He's a tripper though.

 

A few years back we raced the Yeppoon HIM together. I was racing my first half and had only done a couple of ODs. I sort of knew that Matt had been a fair athlete back in his time but didn't really know how good. Anyway, we're wandering around the expo and he's asking my advice on this and that (he'd never worn a tri suit before and wanted to know if they were any good!) Here's me, 5 minutes in the sport being asked for advice from a guy that went to the first World Championships!

 

He's still scarily quick though.

He's a top bloke. I hadn't seen him for 20 years, and then bumped into him at the book launch down the coast last year. He doesn't look much different, maybe a bit thinner. And he's always been like you say. He'd ask anybody for advice, pay attention, and use anything he thought was worthwhile.

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Great read Ex! Guys like you are the reason I love being involved with this sport.

Hope to see you back racing sometime soon!

Rog

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No on Johnny, he was of course a legend at No.8.

 

The guy I had in mind by the last name (gave it away now)might have a similar to you, French-Belgian last name.

 

Marlene Mathews because Jackson was a few years ahead of the others, but accepted.

 

 

Did Dawn win only 4 inc relays? Actually I meant Betty Cuthbert but the description seems to fit both.

 

Let's clear this one up. For anyone who did watch RL in the 60's there could only be one answer.

 

Reg Gasnier,

 

Upon Gasnier's retirement then ARL chairman Bill Buckley said, "[in] his day, he was the greatest rugby league player I have ever seen. Gasnier had an amazing change of pace and great anticipation. He was also particularly unselfish. He was without peer

 

 

Then on Q4, I was not actually thinking of Dawn, too easy that question. What I meant was, clear enough to myself only, that because of the "Golden Girls" label belonging to 2 diffrent eras. I meant Betty who aleady had 3 Golds under belt from earlier. Unexpectedly winning the 400, when it was raced for the first time in 1964. Women did not run long distances in those days and in some cases were banned from doing so.

Edited by Kamal2

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We could say we were both wrong & go for Norm Proven. Gasnier was not the king, but was the "Prince of centres", so if Proven was his captain most of those years, then he'd have to be king.

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Touche, but who even remembers Proven? Clive Churchill with the Kangaroos, yes.

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Ex-H. It was an absolute pleasure reading your bio. Easy reading and I could visualise most of your stories. I started a few years after you but have always just made up the numbers. It's great to read about sports families and life as a fulltime athlete (even if its age group).

 

Be proud of your achievements.

 

BTW, we may see each other sometime in Port or Melbourne or.... (or the pub).

 

Cheers

 

Mick

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That was long Ex but worth the read and well written, it captured some of the feeling of what tris were like in the early days.

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Touche, but who even remembers Proven? Clive Churchill with the Kangaroos, yes.

 

 

Anybody who looks at the NRL Trophy. :)

Or lives in the Shire, for years had a furniture store at Caringbah. I went school with his nephew.

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Thanks for reading guys. It was an interesting experience putting it to paper.

 

Interesting that a couple of you have said it was good to read about what it was like doing triathlons in the early days. It interests me to know what it's like for someone kicking off in the sport these days. Does it have the same social aspects as it did in the 80's? Back then, for a lot of us, it was pretty much what defined us. Most weekends involved racing or partying with other triathletes, and lots of relationships bloomed within the sport. I realise there are a lot more triathletes racing these days, but back then well over half the triathletes in Brisbane would recognise, and go up to chat in the street half the other triathletes. It really was a community. Is it anything like that now?

 

I think one of the main differences I see these days is the number of old bastards (especially fast old bastards) in the sport. I can remember Greg Reddan, and thinking, gee he's fast for such an old guy. He was in his late 30's at that stage. Now, there's fast 50 year olds, and there's dozens of 40yr olds as fast as Greg was then. How long till we see a 60yr old going sub 10 at Kona?

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One difference to me would be the sharply rising cost which impacts you like running into a brick wall, when you are retired out of your peak earning years. I would easily chunk off 10k cash even more, twice a year, take it in stride, bringing along the whole family. You wont do that later when the income drops.

 

If ever you take a look at Age Group times, and clearly there are fast guys all the way up. It's normal to peak as you age up. entering a new AG, eg 55-59. There's going to be a cluster of same age guys looking at exactly the same thing you are.

 

Here's AG 70-74 Fe in a recent race done by a friend of mine in the USA, This race had 31 females 55 and up, which is a vast number even to comparing 15 years ago where you might get only a few or none in each category.

 

 

Place Bib Code Age Sex NAME city/state Rank SWIM Rank T1 Rank Bike Rank T2 Rank RUN PENALTY TIME DQ 1. 234 74 F Molly Sherwood Annapolis MD 1 20:20 1 4:01 1 54:08 2 4:16 1 31:43 1:54:26 2. 51 71 F Vicki Murphy-Kendall Havertown PA 2 25:30 2 4:24 2 1:01:52 1 2:28 2 35:24 2:09:3

 

When it comes to KQ the same thing will apply across the board.

 

I'm not saying you don't know that, but the way this sport has gone even the "easy" categories are raced extemely hard these days.

Edited by Kamal2

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