Four years and four shoulder operations later and Paratriathlon pioneer Justin Godfrey is happily back in the saddle with the Paris Paralympic Games squarely in his sights.
And if that dream comes true in 2024 it will be the best 50th birthday present the boy from Albury could possibly wish for.
Godfrey has seen his sport progress from the age group paddocks of Kensington in London at the 2012 World Championships to the blue carpets now afforded all elite triathletes some 10 years down the track.
And if anyone deserves a spot on the team it’s Godfrey whose record on the World Triathlon website reads like something any pro would be proud of – 24 races; 20 podiums; 15 wins.
Now four years since his last elite race, and a long recovery from a serious shoulder injury, the 47-year-old leg amputee was front and centre and back on the Gold Coast today racing in his PTS3 category at the 2022 Australian Paratriathlon and Intellectual Impairment Championships at Runaway Bay.
“I was just doing cycling and a bit of running which I can still do no worries but I had not swum through that whole four years with the operations and all the rehab,” said Godfrey.
“But when Paris was announced and my category was in after missing (out) in the two previous Paralympics it was like ‘lets get back into it'.
“I’ve been given one more chance with my category finally in, so I’m up for one last crack and I’ll give it all I’ve got.
Godfrey was only too happy to share his story when budding young paratriathletes made their first Australian Championship appearances at Runaway Bay this morning.
Godfrey told the youngsters to “just stick at it” and even on days like today with rain, sunshine and wind making it tricky on the bike and the run.
“Triathlon is a forever growing sport and the more you put into it the more you are going to get out of it,” was Godfrey’s message to the next generation.
“it’s getting bigger and better, being in the Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games it’s going from strength to strength at the moment.
“They just have to keep focused and remember it’s not going to happen over night...it’s a rewarding sport once you sink your teeth into it.
It was the second ever Australian Championships for the Intellectual Impairment athletes and again it was Victoria’s multi-talented duo Cameron Marshall in the men’s race and Georgia Powning in the women’s who continued on their winning ways as all competitors completed two Super Sprints in trying, windy conditions.
While brilliant PTS5 athlete Jack Howell (VIC) 54.28 and PTVI Tokyo Paralympian on the track Sam Harding (ACT) 54.40 were first across the lines – only 12 seconds separating the pair after their two Super Sprint times were combined.
Victorian PTS4 pair Jeremy Peacock 56.42 and Liam Twomey 58.04 continued their dueling as they showed their talented wares around the Runaway Bay course.
Godfrey, Peacock, Twomey and Harding will now prepare themselves for the 2022 World Triathlon Para Series race in Yokohama on May 14 as they all set about claiming the all-important rankings points.
Triathlon Australia Paratriathlon Team Lead Kyle Burns said despite the wind swept conditions it was a major step for the junior athletes.
“It was really pleasing having that next crop in action and being able to see the elites go round and seeing them posing for photos with the likes of Justin after their races – that’s what it’s all about,” said Burns.
“The conditions were trying and that wind was strong for the young athletes but it certainly gave them a taste of it.”
Today also saw Erica Burleigh (PTVI), Rohan Sills (PTWC), Sara-Ashlee Tait (PTWC), Glen Jarvis (PTS2), Grace Brimelow (PTS3), and Caroline Baird (TWD) put together great performances to take the win in their respective classes for the Australian Championships.
1st - Sam Harding
1st - Erica Burleigh
1st - Rohan Sills
1st - Sara-Ashlee Tait
1st - Glen Jarvis
1st - Justin Godfrey
1st - Grace Brimelow
1st - Jeremy Peacock
2nd - Liam Twomey
1st - Jack Howell
1st - Caroline Baird
1st - Cameron Marshall
2nd - Harry Mezger
3rd - Carlo Manolitsas
1st - Georgia Powning
2nd - India Biesse Fitton
3rd - Annabelle Colman
4th - Montana Whiteley