Two-time World Triathlon Champion Emma Carney will return to the sport she dominated at the highest level throughout the 1990s when she lines up in the 2014 Sports Chiropractic Australia Oceania Duathlon Championships this Sunday, in Adelaide.
No one has the heart to stop her – not even her own.
Carney, 43, will line up in the women’s age category for the run-bike-run event, 10 years after she suffered a cardiac arrest at a race in Edmonton – which brought a premature halt to her illustrious career.
She was diagnosed with right ventricular cardiomyopathy and had a defibrillator implanted to keep her in check and keep her alive.
Doctors told her she would never race again and to stop exercising.
But Carney, defibrillator and all, has a habit of proving people wrong and getting her own way and will be very much back in the saddle a decade later when some of Australia’s finest duathletes and triathletes converge on the city for the Sports Chiropractic Australia Oceania Duathlon Championships.
Although her cardiologist will argue that he doesn’t like Carney using the term “race” the 43-year-old legend of the sport knows she is back under strict instructions not to raise her heart rate over 160 beats per minute or her defibrillator will produce a “kick like a mule.”
Carney made a cameo appearance at the Noosa Triathlon in 2012 where she raced but “didn’t actually race” although she was first home in her 40-44 years age group.
A competitive streak that saw her win 12 straight ITU World Cups between 1995 and 1997 still burning inside but these days very much subdued.
The Adelaide return is a timely one for Carney who was recently inducted as one of seven inaugural members of the International Triathlon Union’s Hall of Fame, in conjunction with its 25 years celebrations held in Edmonton, Canada the location that 10 years earlier saw Carney's elite career came to an end due to cardiac arrest.
She joined another heart-attack survivor Greg Welch among the first inductees.
Since having the ICD implant, Carney's determination and competitive edge wasn't going to deter her and now she is able to regularly train and compete without high intensity.
“I have this love-hate relationship with my cardiologist and we have regular discussions about what I think I can do and what he thinks I shouldn’t do,” says Carney.
“But in the end we somehow, well I come up with a compromise and as long as I keep tabs on my heart rate then we get along fine, most of the time.
“I have been able to run and swim and jump on the bike and being in Edmonton was an inspiration and to be in touch with the sport that has meant so much to me has also renewed my enthusiasm for the sport.
‘The Duathlon is also something that I thought I can probably do that as long a I don’t get too competitive but I am really looking forward to the experience.”
Carney is no stranger to the Duathlon format either having won silver at the 1999 World Championships in Huntersville, USA and, if all goes to plan will be in contention for selection at the World Duathlon Championships in October, 2015 in Adelaide.
The Oceania Championships will see the elites will race over a 5km run, 20km draft legal bike, and final 2.5km run in the heart of Adelaide.
Sports Chiropractic Australia (SCA) is providing $10K prize money to be equally shared by the elite women and men and Triathlon Australia have confirmed that the Championships will be the main selection race for the elite National Team to compete at the Adelaide 2015 ITU Duathlon World Championships.
Carney is keen to put back into the sport of triathlon and is about to launch her own online coaching website www.emmacarney.com