Australia has collected two silver and five bronze medals in the Aquathlon events on the opening day of the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Edmonton, Canada today.
Silvers went to WA’s Greg Salter who emerged two places better than last year when he finished fourth in London and Harvey Bay, Queensland’s Jennifer Strack who is back with the kind of form that won her the World Sprint Distance gold in Auckland in 2012.
They led a small but select team of Australians who certainly made their presence felt, probably none more than former emerging swim star Andrew MacNamara who took bronze in the 25-29 years age group in the 750m swim, 4.6km run course around Hawrelak Park.
MacNamara was one five Australians to win bronze. The others being Francis Mahony (50-54 years male), Richard Burnell (55-59 years Male), Ray Hunt (70-74 years Male) and Lachlan Lewis (75-79 years Male).
While nine other Australians finished in the top 10: Tania Gover (35-39 years) 9th; Jason Yerbury (16-19 years) 6th; Ella Connaghan (16-19 years) 6th); Xavier Flynn (35-39 years) 8th; Paul Taylor (40-44 years) 5th; Samantha Dwyer (45-49 years) 7th; Kevin Halse (45-49 years) 9th and Christine Walker (65-69 years) 5th
But MacNamara’s is an extraordinary story.
A budding swimmer, born in Bega and who moved to Sydney to start University and become a school teacher and to pursue a swimming career.
After showing considerable improvement in the pool, MacNamara was quickly picked up by Head Coach Tony Shaw at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre and was named on the Australian Junior Flippers team to tour Japan in 2009, with National Head Youth Coach Leigh Nugent excited with his prospects.
Given three days off to go skiing at the end of the swimming trip, MacNamara’s swimming career, which could well have ended up at the Commonwealth Games or Olympics, crashed and burned on the ski fields.
An horrendous accident saw MacNamara break both femas which required a double knee re-construction, spending 18 months on crutches – swimming and let alone running and riding a bike – the furthest thing from his mind.
Let alone wearing the green and gold
“I thought back then it was all over and only for the team at Sapphire Beach Physio I would not have come back and done anything,” said MacNamara, who proudly wears their logo on his suit.
“They put me back together and helped me through when all of my medical benefits ran out and then encouraged me to get back into sport and I did my first triathlon at Huskisson.
“It was an amazing experience and I am now hooked and I can’t thank them and my parents enough for helping me get to this point of my career.
“To be here competing for Australia is a dream come true and I now can’t wait to race on Friday in the Sprint Triathlon Championships.”
MacNamara, as expected, gave himself every opportunity, coming out of the 750m swim in third place behind Brazilian Romulo Dos Santos and eventual winner Alfonso Magna Mondragon from Mexico.
But it was fellow Mexican Rogello Igor Sanchez Castro who produced an extraordinary run leg to give away almost two minutes in the swim to beat MacNamara by five seconds.
In the end it was Mondragon (27:26) first, Sanchez Castro (29:56) second with MacNamara (30.01) in third.
No wonder his mum and dad Dianne and Tony had a tear in their eye when Andrew skyped them before he raced.
There will be a few more tears today down in the MacNamara house hold on the NSW South Coast and maybe a glass of champagne or two in the Sapphire Beach Physio come happy hour too.