Triathlon Australia elevated five extraordinary athletes to Legends of The Sport status when the Celebration of Champions Awards returned to the Gold Coast last night.
The fab five – Tim Bentley, Belinda Soszyn, Belinda Granger, Lachlan Lewis and Rad Leovic – have all had remarkable careers across all distances – and some continue to contest the swim, bike, run disciplines to this day.
Bentley was a key figure in triathlon’s early years in Australia, and contributed greatly as an athlete and ambassador to changing the face of the sport, particularly as triathlon entered into the professional era towards its Olympic debut at Sydney 2000.
He won multiple events across Victoria and Australia, and internationally.
In 1988 Bentley placed 14th at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, making him the first Australian to cross the finish line that year.
The 1990/91 season saw a long sought-after break-through for Bentley when he made the podium consistently across the season and was later named Triathlete of the Year under the National Series banner.
In 1994, in the first year of the Tooheys Blue Triathlon, Bentley finished third racing against two of the world's best in Brad Beven and Greg Welch.
Belinda Soszyn remains one of Australia’s earliest Age Group Champions, with successes in both ITU & IRONMAN racing from the 1990s and she is still racing to this day, building an impressive resume full of impressive achievements, including the Ampol Australian Age Group Champion; Australian Triathlon Series Age Group Sprint Champion; competing in both the Gold Coast 1991 ITU Triathlon World Championships and 1991 Hawaiian Ironman World Championships just six days apart.
She was also a silver medallist in the 2000 Perth ITU Triathlon World Championships (45-49F), and World Champion Long Distance in 2006.
In 2009, she completed the three World Championship events held on the Gold Coast and stood on the podium at the presentation ceremony with three medals around her neck, dominating the 55 to 59 year age group.
Soszyn also won the Aquathlon World Championships in Auckland 2012 (55-59F).
Belinda Granger is a celebrated former Australian professional triathlete, who is a 15x IRONMAN Distance Champion.
Granger remains a beloved figure, especially throughout the Asia-Pacific region where she has focused the majority of her career. From 2001 – 2007 she featured on the Podium at IRONMAN Australia in Forster, and Port Macquarie.
She had five-consecutive top-10 finishes in Kona – 10th (2003; sixth (2004); seventh (2005), eighth (2006) and ninth (2007).
Granger was unimpressed by her first triathlon. Not until her second attempt in 1990, did she decide 'to get into it'.
In the process of training, improving, and chasing better results, she became 'addicted' to the sport.
Granger raced as an elite at ITU events from 1996, was the first woman home when she contested the 1997 ITU World Championships in Perth as an Age Grouper.
She also contested the open category of the 1998 Noosa Triathlon rather than the ITU World Cup held at Noosa over the same weekend and it was her 1998 Noosa win that helped to establish her reputation as “the people's hero.”
Lachlan Lewis has competed on 24 stand-alone Age Group World Championship Events on the Australian Age Group Team and is the oldest Australian Age Group Team Member to ever compete at the World Triathlon Age Group World Championships for Australia.
Lewis started competing on the Australian Age Group Team in 1997 in Perth in the 60-64 Male age group category and continues to compete today in the 85-89 age group category. Lachlan has claimed three Bronze Medals 2014 Edmonton Aquathlon (75-79), 2017 Penticton Aquathlon (80-84) and in 2022 Montreal he claimed a bronze medal in the 85-89 Sprint Distance Triathlon event.
Canberra-based Rad Leovic, now 95, raced on the Australian Age Group Team in the 75 to 79 male age group and was named “a local legend” in Canberra.
Leovic competed at nine stand alone Age Group World Championship Events on the Australian Age Group Team.
He claimed Bronze in 2003 Affoltern Standard Distance Duathlon (75-79), Bronze 2005 Newcastle Standard Distance Duathlon (75-79), Silver 2006 Corner Brook Standard Distance Duathlon (75-79), Bronze 2007 Gyor Standard Distance Duathlon (75-79), Bronze 2008 Rimini Standard Distance Duathlon (80-84), Gold 2009 Gold Coast Sprint Distance Triathlon (80-84), Silver 2012 Nancy Standard Distance Duathlon (80-84), Silver 2014 Pontevedra Sprint Distance Duathlon (85-89).