Brisbane training partners Max Neumann and Kerry Morris are the toast of the Sunshine Coast today after breakthrough victories in the Mooloolaba Triathlon and Australian Age Group Championships.
A born-again Neumann praised new coach Cam Watt for breathing life into his swim as he also overcame a toe injury that has prevented him from serious running for two weeks.
Then former swimmer, turned-surfer-cum-triathlete Kerry Morris engineered a perfect race plan to score her first major victory in the women’s race which saw the consistent Courtney Gilfillan a close-up second with another Watt squad member Katie Gibbs third.
It was a day that also saw Tweed Heads Commonwealth Games bound wheelchair paratriathlete Bill Chaffey put the finishing touches to his preparations for the Gold Coast on April 7.
Chaffey, who crashed in the Gold Coast Triathlon Luke Harrop Memorial Australian Sprint Championship race two weeks ago, came through today’s race unscathed after “mastering the headwind and loving the tailwind.”
But it was 22-year-old Neumann who celebrated his New Year switch to coach Watt at Ferny Hills with a victory over former World 70.3 champion Tim Reed and fellow Queenslander Ben Cook.
For Neumann it is a major step towards automatic selection in the Australian Under 23s team for this year’s ITU World Championships on the Gold Coast in September.
And he put it all down to his vastly improved swim – that put him in the race - 1.5km into the dumping, rippy Mooloolaba break that proved trickier than expected for those in the early wave divisions.
“I’ve been struggling with my swim for a couple of years now and you never really know what you can do until you change your environment and change your coach,” said Neumann.
“I’ve been through a couple of coaches through the years and recently I changed to Cam and we get on really well, he’s just like another mate and everything is ticking along and he’s changed my swim and that was my best ever swim I’ve ever had.
“My swim has always let me down (so much so) that I haven't even been part of the race and before moving to Cam it had me choosing what I do (whether) I keep going but he has got my career back on track.
“I trust him that he knows what he’s doing and he puts his heart and soul into it.
“And actually a couple of weeks ago at the Hell Of The West – that was my best swim - so I’ve improved on that again so I’m absolutely stoked with how it’s going. Hopefully I can keep it rolling.
“Having Cam only 15 minutes from where I live and he is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He is there every day, looking at every session there with you and just his presence is one of the main contributing factors to success.
“In the swim it’s consistent hard work outs day-in-day out and he works on individual and not the group, he individualises the program.
“I’ll be trying for automatic World Championship selection in St Kilda in four weeks for the Australian Under 23s for the Gold Coast in September so I’ll be giving that my best shot.”
Neumann will then base himself in Switzerland where he will set himself for European Cup and World Cup races.
“I don’t want to push it too much too early and I want to go to races and be part of the race and not just make up the numbers – I want to make sure that when I rock up I’m ready to go,” said Neumann, who went on to reveal his toe injury, suffered in the Hell of the West race.
“I suffered the toe injury which forced me to have two weeks off and I’ve only just been able to run for 10 and 15 minutes at a time and Cam said before today’s race to play it smart…and to consider pulling out at the 5km mark but it actually felt ok.
“In fact it was one of the most comfortable 10km runs I’ve done but I’ll definitely be putting my feet up after this.”
It was somewhat of a different swim story for women’s winner Morris, Sydney-born age group swimmer, who took up surfing at Maroubra and then triathlons in WA when she worked as an engineer on Barrow Island.
Morris moved back to the east coast and like Neumann only started training in January with the Cam Watt triathlon group and in a squad that also includes 2017 Ironman World Championship bronze medallist Sarah Crowley,
“In the swim I was struggling a little bit but my coach said let’s leave judgment until after the race and we can talk about it …s o I put that behind me,” said Morris.
“I got on with the race and I had heaps of power on the bike and was taking energy from everyone I was overtaking and focusing on my own race.
“It was a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back, so coming back I was definitely suffering and I pushed really hard on the bike … and it was a case of whatever I’ve got left on the run I’ll just give it (all I’ve got).
“It is such a great course, a great race, the crowd was a amazing and they got me home in the end.”
2018 Mooloolaba Triathlon Results
1 Max Neumann 1:51:25
2 Tim Reed 1:52:31
3 Ben Cook 1:54:40
4 David Mainwaring 1:56:15
5 Casey Munro 1:56:28
1 Kerry Morris 2:07:22
2 Courtney Gilfillan 2:08:06
3 Katey Gibb 2:10:09
4 Annelise Jefferies 2:11:54
5 Brittany Dutton 2:12:23