This week we are counting down the most defining moments for our elite athletes in triathlon history, to remind us of the good times of racing and to inspire us to keep training to achieve our own best moments!
We couldn't decide between these two great moments in triathlon history, so it's a tie!
1. Distinguished triathlete Michellie Jones hails from Fairfield, Sydney, and has a sporting resume bookmarked by winning the ITU Triathlon World Championships in 1992 and 1993, the XTERRA World Champs in 1996, and the ITU Triathlon World Cup in 1998 and 1999. Only three times she did compete an ITU World Championship race and not make the podium. It was no surprise then, that she came out fighting in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the inaugural year for triathlon as an Olympic sport. In the race to the finish, Jones came in just two seconds behind Switzerland's Brigitte McMahon for a silver medal (Australia's first medal of the Olympics) in her hometown. Jones would later go on to a successful career in Iron-distance racing, being crowned World Champion at Kona in 2006, only the second Australian - male or female - to accomplish this feat.
2. Katie Kelly, from Casino on NSW's far north coast, started her paratriathlon career with a bang, taking home gold at the 2015 ITU World Paratriathlon race on the Sunshine Coast and winning the National Paratriathlon Champs just two weeks later. Later that year, Michellie Jones became Kelly's guide in the lead-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics and together they won their first ITU World Championship title in Chicago. The following year, Kelly with guide Jones won Australia's first medal in paratriathlon at Rio. In 2017, they backed up this awesome achievement with another World Championship win at the ITU World Champs in Rotterdam.
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Newcastle local Lauren Parker was already a successful junior swimmer when she turned to triathlon aged 18, where she quickly made a name for herself as an athlete to watch, with a 2nd place in the 25-29 year old age group at the Ironman World Champs in 2015.
In 2018, Parker had only been competing in paratriathlon for three and a half months when she made her Commonwealth Games debut, leading for most of the race after strong swim and bike legs. In the race to the finish line, Parker took home the bronze medal, with fellow Aussie Emily Tapp in second.
Parker has been blazing her way in paratriathlon since she began competing, with a gold medal last year at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, as well as winning the NSWIS Ian Thorpe OAM Outstanding Achievement Award (2018, 2019), Triathlon Australia Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award (2018) and Sport NSW Athlete of the Year with a Disability Award (2018).
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Cronulla-born Craig "Crowie" Alexander raced his first triathlon in Kurnell in 1993 and went on to become a professional triathlete in Olympic and half-iron distance races, winning a total of 20 races in his first 4 years as a professional triathlete.
In 2006, Crowie won the inaugural 70.3 Ironman World Championship and the following year, went on to his first Ironman World Championships, taking home silver on the big island. His first gold in Kona was the following year in 2008, and another win in 2009.
Racing at Kona in 2011, Crowie took the early lead in the marathon over American Chris Lieto, but just 2km from the finish line was crippled by cramps. Remarkably, he was able to get moving again to a triumphant finish in 8hr 3min 56sec, 12 seconds inside the previous course record of 8:04.08, set in 1996. This was even more remarkable for the fact that Crowie had already won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship the month prior, earning the pinnacle titles of long course racing in the world.
Crowie's course record at Kona would remain unbeaten for six years, until 2017 when Patrick Lange crossed Ali'l Drive in 8:01:39.
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South Sydney's Chris McCormack was destined for sporting glory after a distinguished youth sporting resume of soccer, rugby and cross country running. During university, he picked up triathlon and immediately made a name for himself with two Australian Junior Triathlon titles.
In his first year as a professional, Macca was ranked number 9 in the World by the ITU, and in 1997 he continued his short course triathlon domination with six top 10 finishes in World Cup races. In Perth, he confidently took the gold medal in the ITU World Championship with a 13-second lead over New Zealand's Hamish Carter, rounding out four medals for Australia after an all-Aussie podium in the women's race.
Macca was the first male triathlete ever to win both the ITU World Cup and the World Championship, and be ranked number 1 in the World in a single season. He would remain ITU World number 1 for more than 26 months in total, and is considered the best endurance athlete of his generation.
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John Maclean's story is an extraordinary one, which begins with triathlon but by no means ends with it. John, from Caringbah in south Sydney, became Australia's first paraplegic triathlete when he competed in the 1994 Nepean Triathlon. That year, he watched Jon Franks attempt the Hawaii Ironman and miss the bike cutoff time, and a challenge was set.
In 1995, Maclean made his way to the big island, and completed the world's most gruelling triathlon, becoming the first paraplegic to complete the course. He returned to Hawaii the following year, and then in 1997 became the first paraplegic to complete the course before the cut-off time for able-bodied competitors. In 2002 John became the first non-American inducted into the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame.
Maclean has successfully competed in a range of events since then, including Ultraman, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and an English Channel swim, and has a number of paralympic rowing gold and silver medals to his name. In 1998, he established The John Maclean Foundation, which is now a national scale organisation providing support and assistance to Australian wheelchair users under the age of 18.
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Hailing from Wollongong, current Triathlon Australia CEO Miles Stewart had a diverse sporting background including swimming, speed skating, aquathlon and cycling when he started triathlon aged 15. Just five years later, he won the World Championship on the Gold Coast and to this day remains the youngest athlete to have achieved this.
Stewart placed an impressive 6th place at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the debut year for triathlon as an Olympic sport. In the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Stewart took home the silver medal, just three seconds behind Canada's Simon Whitfield. He continued to race short course triathlons for another three years, with a number of ITU wins under his belt. He is also is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest triathlon time in the world.
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Newcastle local Aaron Royle was an early convert to triathlon, aged just 14 when he traded swimming and running for multisport. A strategic move to Wollongong to join the NSWIS triathlon squad paid off for the young Royle, as he started racing internationally at age 19.
With the Youth Olympics, Junior World Championships and a number of ITU races under his belt, Royle ran shoulder to shoulder with 5 other equally hungry athletes at the 2012 U23 World Champs, timing his final kick to perfection to take home the gold on the day.
Royle later saw out his childhood dream of going to the Olympics, finishing 9th in Rio. He was also part of the bronze medal winning mixed relay team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Royle is now back in his Wollongong stomping ground and dabbles in some long course racing as well.
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Hailing from Campbelltown, Erin Densham came from a strong background in swimming and cross country running when she took up triathlon aged 16. After just five years in the sport, she won the U23 World Championship in Switzerland in 2006.
After coming 22nd in her Olympic debut at Beijing, Densham was hungry for a podium in London, and came out fighting with a group of five athletes on the run. In a thrilling sprint finish, Densham took the bronze medal by just two seconds, with Nicola Spirig beating Lisa Nordén by 15cm in a photo finish.
Densham later became the first Australian triathlete to compete at three Olympic Games as she took to the starting line at the Rio 2016, where she came 12th.
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As a youngster in Wagga, Brad Kahlefeldt made a tough choice between a career in AFL or running, which ultimately saw him become one of Australia's best short course triathletes.
In 2006, his tenth year representing Australia in triathlon, Brad - or 'Sticksy' as he became known - took four World Cup victories and a number of major event wins. Most importantly, he took home the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Melbourne with just a 10 second lead on New Zealand's Bevan Docherty, giving Australia two triathlon gold medals with Emma Snowsill's victory in the women's.
Brad had a remarkable triathlon career - of his 90 starts on the World Triathlon Series, he podiumed 42 times and won 16 times. He also competed at two Olympic Games, Beijing and London. Brad is now married to elite long course triathlete Radka Kahlefeldt (nee Vodickova) and together they run BKR Coaching.
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We are starting with Campsie-born legend Greg Welch, the first non-American winner of the Ironman World Championships in 1994.
After consecutive podium and top ten finishes in the late 80s and early 90s, Welch was hungry for a win on Ali'i Drive. In 1994, he laid down the fastest men's swim split on the day, following it up with a strategic ride that allowed him to run his way to the front of the race. With the long stretch of the Energy Lab ahead of him, Welch kicked the gear up a notch to expand his gap on Dave Scott and take the historic win. Read more about the race here.
Greg is known for having won "The Grand Slam" - the ITU Triathlon World Championships (1990), The Ironman World Championship (1994), the ITU Duathlon World Championships (1993) and the Long Course Triathlon World Championship (1994).
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