Nadine Hunt has etched her name in history as the first-ever First Nations woman from Australia to compete in the prestigious IRONMAN World Championship.
A proud Kaantju and lamalaig woman from the Kulkalgal Nations in the central Island of the Torres Straits, Hunt earned her coveted spot at the pinnacle of endurance sports by finishing fourth in her age group at the 2023 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship Cairns.
“Cairns 2023 was the first IRONMAN I’d prepped for” Hunt said.
“Ten months before this race, I jotted some goals down, realistic ones I thought I could achieve if I were able to put in the work.
“A Kona slot may have been in there somewhere. I laughed it off to her as a joke, but deep down, we both knew I was serious about making it a reality.”
Not only did she become the first First Nations woman to compete at an IRONMAN World Championship, but she also stands as the first Torres Strait Islander person to compete at the event, four decades after Western Yalanji elder Terry O’Shane became the first Aboriginal man to participate in the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawai`i in 1983.
In 2021, Aboriginal woman Aunty Sharon Bolger earned her qualification for the IRONMAN World Championship, a remarkable achievement that was unfortunately thwarted by the pandemic-induced cancellation of the event.
Understanding the magnitude of the missed opportunity, Hunt emphasised she wanted to represent not just her but all her Mob proudly.
“I’ve had to get more comfortable with it because it still blows my mind that no other First Nations woman from Australia has raced Kona, and it’s 2023.” Hunt said
“It also makes me incredibly proud to be a First Nations woman, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, to race and have a significant opportunity to showcase our strength and culture, switch and control the narrative, and focus on strength-based discourse.
“There is so much power in that, being able to tell our story our way. I hope one inspires more of our Mob to push limits, draw strength from your culture, control your story, and be proud to be First Nations.”
Hunt serves as a Research Coordinator at the Australian National University and is a devoted mother to a five-year-old son. She is an active member and Director of TriMob, a First Nations triathlon club dedicated to empowering the community through the sport of triathlon.
“I want Kona to be something my community can all be proud of because they’ve supported me to get there.” Hunt said.
“I want to amplify the strength and determination of First Nations people, women, and mothers. We can wear many hats and still have power in our identity. That one role does not define who we are.
“I am a First Nations woman, mum, partner, daughter, coach, researcher, student, and triathlete, which makes me Nadine.”