The last time Australia hosted the Triathlon World Championships, Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, The Black Eyed Peas were all over the pop charts and the world was recovering from the Global Financial Crisis. Plenty of things have changed since then, and now almost a decade later we are ready to showcase our beautiful country on the world stage again. The one thing that hasn’t changed is how it feels to represent your country on home soil.
We had the chance to sit down with Mick Delamotte, Triathlon NSW Junior Development Coach, and Mick Maroney, 2 x ITU Triathlon Age Group World Champion, 1 x ITU Aquathon Age Group World Champion and all-time legend of the sport to chat about what racing in front of a home crowd means to athletes.
The Kurnell Triathlon is one of our most prestigious events and will double as a qualification race for the 2018 Gold Coast ITU Triathlon World Championships. Mick Maroney also happened to cross the line first at the inaugural event.
TNSW: When was the last time you can remember racing at a sold-out Kurnell, and what was the atmosphere like for that?
MM: It has been a few years! In the early days the series was run by John Holt and each of the 4 races would reach 1000 entries easily. It was a different time and there weren't so many races on the calendar so we would all typically do the same races over the season. Mark Stewart and his crew have done a great job applying their professionalism to the sprint series.
TNSW: Having athletes that are constantly racing around the world, how do the Kurnell triathlons stack up for them?
MD: Most of the events internationally are well supported by the local community, in Europe for example, there is always a real buzz around a local race and local athletes are well supported. It’s a crazy atmosphere. The superstars from the ITU scene always seem to make appearances at local races as a hit out & they are always popular benchmarks for the locals to pit themselves against. Like anywhere in the world, Kurnell is dominated by age group athletes of all levels with different reasons for racing, but all with goals to achieve and racing for the fun and enjoyment of the sport.
TNSW: You've won a number of World Championships across the globe - what difference does it make to do it in front of a home crowd?
MM: Winning a world title overseas is an amazing thrill - I was lucky enough to experience that - but wearing the green and gold of Australia and winning in front of your home crowd, and family and friends, is extra special. That feeling will stay with me forever.
TNSW: You've watched dozens of ITU level races across the globe - what difference can you see in your athletes when they're racing in front of a home crowd?
MD: Racing at home provides lots of logistical benefits obviously, but it also provides an opportunity to race in front of family and friends & this provides the athletes with an exciting new level of motivation and support.
TNSW: Given that the Commonwealth Games are also set to be hosted in the Gold Coast next year, how can you see that affecting the racing & spectating climate in the area for the Triathlon World Champs?
MM: The GC precinct that will house the Triathlon course lends itself to some amazing spots to spectate. The crowd will feel like they are completely engaged with the action. The Aussie team will also be able to feel the energy of the crowd and lift to another level!
MD: It’s the site of a major games & I am sure athletes will be looking to compare their times against the world’s best given they are racing on the same course. I have no doubt a few kids will hit that blue carpet and for second, pretend they are Gomez, Royle, Duffy or Gentle.
TNSW: The last home World Championships was also held on the Gold Coast, back in 2009, and you managed to come away with the win in your age category. Is it your goal to repeat the performance this time around?
MM: In 2009 I was lucky enough to win the aquathon on the Wednesday, and then on the Sunday, which coincidentally was my birthday, I managed to win the sprint triathlon in front of my parents, wife, kids, and best mate. I had no expectations at all going in - other than trying to get to the start line fit and healthy - to achieve those results was incredibly satisfying. The past few years have been a struggle with injury, and my 5 kids are getting older and busier - but yes, I plan to slowly get back into shape, and qualify if I can - and then do the green and gold proud if I'm picked in the team.
TNSW: The last home Age Group World Championships was also held on the Gold Coast, back in 2009 - what was the atmosphere like for that?
MD: The Buzz at the Gold Coast in 2009 was amazing. The age group racing was awesome, and with the sprint distance event being draft legal, the racing will be even more spectator friendly in what is a perfect backdrop for a large-scale event like Worlds. I can't wait.
The next Kurnell Triathlon is set for Sunday the 12th of November. This is your chance to qualify and wear the green & gold on home soil in 2018. Over 70% of entries are now sold, so get in quick and secure your spot before the event sells out.
You can register here now.