Sunday, October 17, 2010

Triathlon Australia snub Aussie triathlon Hawaii Ironman world champions

Last Sunday morning (October 10 aest) in a first for Australian Triathlon, Chris 'macca' McCormack (NSW) and Mirinda Carfrae (QLD) won the men’s and women’s titles as the world's most prestigious and iconic triathlon - The Hawaii Ironman World Championship which is run by the World Triathlon Corporation
Arguably the most significant result in Australian triathlon in years. Many triathletes would argue the most significant result in the history of Australian Triathlon.
To put McCormack and Carfrae's achievement in context, until 2006 only once had an Australian won the Hawaii Ironman since its inception in 1978. Greg Welch in 1994.
Australians have however, had an incredible run since Michellie Jones broke the Aussie drought in 2006.
Between Craig Alexander (2008, 9) and Chris McCormack (2007, 10) Australian men have won the men's title for the last 4 years.
This incredible streak is unlikely to last with McCormack and Alexander both aged 37.

Triathlon Australia is the governing body of triathlon in Australia and an affiliate of the International Triathlon Union (ITU). Triathlon Australia attempted to remedy its blatant snub of McCormack and Carfrae's achievement after 4 days of external complaints by putting out a small posting (below) on its site which was rightly criticised by one local triathlete as "churlish, self-praising, not athlete focussed at all, unless they could connect them back to TA officialdom".

Ironman World Championships 
Date:: 13-Oct-10
Source:: Triathlon Australia
"Triathlon Australia congratulates all of the Australian triathletes who competed and finished the 2010 Hawaiian Ironman on Sunday 9 October 2010. In particular we congratulate the outstanding performances of our Professional and Age Group athletes who finished with podium positions.
Chris McCormack from the Cronulla Triathlon Club in Sydney won the Men's Pro event, Mirinda Carfrae from Brisbane, Queensland won the Women's Pro event. Caitlin Bridgland from the Fremantle Triathlon Club in Western Australia received a silver medal in her age group category of 18-24 years. We also acknowledge the achievements of our staff and officials. Mary Mitchell, the new President of Triathlon South Australia, finished the race in the 50-54 age group category and Robyn Stanley, the Executive Officer of Triathlon Northern Territory, completed the race in the 55-59 age group category"
A contributor to a leading triathlon chat forum said of Triathlon Australia's snub...... "I assume they had the AGM on the same day so that they could gather and watch the race together. I would therefore assume that the first thought that would come to mind after the finish would be "Hey, get on the homepage and put a notice up, and send out a bulk email. This event is recognised within the triathlon community as the true world championship of ultra distance/long distance triathlon. TA have to put ITU/WTC conflict aside and do what is best for the sport. Ironman is probably the biggest "attractant" to athletes coming in to the sport. We've had 3 Olympics now and that hasn't seen growth so they can't argue ITU is attracting new blood. It is an unsatisfactory situation. Some may say pathetic"

Triathlon Australia's snub is not a reflection of its members and constituents.

Australian triathletes from age groupers to pro's know their sport and its history and if not watching the live webcast of Sunday's Hawaiian Ironman, local aussie triathletes would have been well aware the race was on and taking a keen interest on the fortunes of aussie athletes through local news networks.
I know that last weekend many local triathletes around the country, keen to see their heroes recognised bombarded local media around the country with news of Carfrae and McCormack's success. Yet enthusiasm for this historic day in Australian triathlon was clearly not shared by Triathlon Australia with no news posted on the TA website, no emails to members and no media release. Nothing.

Only a week before the UCI cycling world championships were run and won in Geelong. Cycling Australia members received email updates every day as did members of other state cycling bodies.

Another contributor to the popular Transitions Triathlon Forum offered this observation ........."I have tried my best to stay positive re TA recognising that despite World champs uniform issues etc there are definitely some good things that TA does. But I am now officially confused. Here is a GOOD news story. A REALLY GOOD news story. Why wouldn't you get this up on your website (and everywhere else for that matter!) as soon as possible and as often as possible after the event? You want people to do triathlons right? You want some free media exposure right? You've just had two Aussies win Kona right? You want the head of TA sitting with Macca on Sunrise telling people all over Australia why it is such a good thing to get into right?

On Triathlon Australia's website TA claim "Further, Triathlon Australia also continues to support Iron Man racing in Australia through its support of the National Ultra Distance Championships".

The also website gives a brief overview of recent Australian performances over long course and Ironman triathlon. ............."Whilst Australia has dominated the Olympic distance over the years it has not been quite so successful over the longer distances. Other than Greg Welch’s 1994 Hawaii triumph and his 1993 and 1996 World ITU Long Course World Championship titles Aussies have had less to crow about at the longer end of the spectrum, with Americans and Europeans tending to dominate. Recently however things have begun to look up with 1997 ITU World Champ Chris McCormack stepping up to Ultra distance racing with a spectacular 8:24 on debut at Forster to become the first Australian to take the outright win in the Australian Championship since Rod Cedaro in 1990".

Unfortunately Triathlon Australia’s assessments of Australian performances over the longer distance triathlons is around 8 years out of date as the McCormack's Forster win referred to occurred in 2002.
McCormack went on to win 5 straight Ironman Australia titles and then of course two Hawaii Ironman’s.
No mention is made of Michellie Jones 2006 Hawaii win or Craig Alexanders 2008,9 Hawaii wins.
Indeed, since 2002 Australians have won dozens of Long Distance, Half Ironman and Full Ironman races around the world which makes the notion that Australians are "unsuccessful over the longer distances" redundant in 2010. Indeed, Australia could now arguably lay claim to being the world's most successful country in long distance triathlon.


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