As a part of its 25th year anniversary celebrations, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) inducted two Australian’s amongst the first seven inductees into its inaugural Hall of Fame at the ITU World Championship Series Grand Final Edmonton.
Two of Australia’s greatest triathletes, Greg Welch and Emma Carney were in this inaugural induction. Welch and Carney were among 10 Australians, Miles Stewart, Brad Beven, Peter Robertson, Chris McCormack, Michellie Jones, Loretta Harrop, Jackie Fairweather and Emma Snowsill in a who’s who of arguably the 22 greatest triathletes of all time shortlisted for the Hall of Fame and acknowledge Peter Robertson (another Victorian) was in this elite nomination group – a great honour in itself!
Given that this was the first induction in the 25 year history of the ITU competition and expectation were high about who would be inducted and who would be omitted. Typically the first inductees are those slightly more highly favoured so this honour was up for grabs.
Emma Carney is Victoria’s greatest ever female triathlete so we will focus on her and acknowledge Greg Welch briefly.
Not much more can be said about Greg Welch the plasterer from Cronulla who went on to win the ITU World Championship in 1990 and then being crowned World Cup Series winner in 1991, World Duathlon champion in 1993, Hawaii Ironman Champion in 1994 and World Long Course Distance champion in 1996. Already Triathlon Australia Hall of Famer and Sports Australia Hall of Famer (the only triathlete) Welch explained:
“It is fantastic to be inducted after 25 years of our wonderful sport, it’s a young sport but to be recognised as Triathlon Royalty moving forward is very special,” …….. “Having two Australians, Emma and I, up tonight just goes to show the dominance that we had over the Olympic Distance. Two people on the same day in the very first one.”
Now to Emma Carney:
Carney’s ITU career saw her win two ITU world championships in 1994 and 1997, silver in 1996, 19 World Cup wins and a three-time ITU World Cup Series winner in 1995, 1996 and 1997 as well as the inaugural Xterra World Champion in 1996.
Carney began her sporting life as a runner setting records as a youngster, concentrating on the track all the way through her teens and was a relative latecomer to triathlon. Louise Bonham, Liz Hepple and Michellie Jones set the bar high with their bike/run combinations so Carney was not the first, but she was the first of the three multi world champ winning Emma’s. A fierce competitor with a relentless determination that enabled her to eclipse the opposition. If she was within striking distance towards the end of a race you would never bet against her.
She tried her first triathlon in 1993, which she won after overcoming a 7-minute deficit from a 700 metre swim. By November 1994, in her first international triathlon she (and her sister Clare in the juniors) had won the ITU World Championships title by a record margin of 2 minutes 12 seconds.
From June 1995 to April 1997, Carney recorded an unbroken string of 12 straight ITU World Cup wins. Only Vanessa Fernandes has approached the dominance that Carney held over the fields in that era. After a narrow loss to Michellie Jones at the 1997 Monaco World Cup, she recorded another seven World Cup victories also adding another ITU World Champion title.
“It is very humbling with the people who I am being inducted with and I gather they have chosen athletes who competed before the Olympics so it’s a nice choice and I’ve very honoured” …. “Michellie Jones has already congratulated me and I’m sure she will be in next year” …. “Australia has made a big step in developing the sport. We showed the world how to race triathlon.”
Her highlight was her last World Championship win in Perth in front of a huge home crowd. “I had to prove myself that day and pretty much cemented myself as the world’s number one that year,” said Carney.