More than 1600 age group athletes, their family, friends and support crew will converge on Mitchell Park, Southport this Sunday morning (9 April) for the Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial, the final race of massive weekend of triathlon.
While Saturday is the realm of ITU elite triathletes, paratriathletes and mixed relay, come Sunday it is time for the age groupers and Gold Coast Superkidz to emulate their World Triathlon Series idols.
One familiar face in the crowd will be former NRL star and dual-code international, Mat Rogers who is back to race the Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial with his family and training group. “When professional athletes retire from their sport the ability to strive each week for their goal, or get fit or whatever is taken away from them. But I have found triathlon has helped me with that transition from professional sport into regular civilian life because it gives me something to look forward to, to focus on and I still get the pleasure of the physical side of sport.”
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The Gold Coast is where Roger’s triathlon journey began five years ago and this year he returns with group of friends and training partners. “I was training with a group for a marathon and we were just trying to raise some funds for our charity 4 ASD Kids. One of the guys was doing the Gold Coast triathlon and he asked me if I wanted to join him. I thought I have a bike, I enjoy riding, I was doing a lot of running and I can swim, I had never done one so I thought I would have a go.
“I literally did one triathlon and I was hooked. I came home straight after that race and jumped online and looked for the next triathlon. I went from the Gold Coast, to the Byron Bay Olympic Distance, to Cairns Half Ironman to Ironman Western Australia all in one year,” he said.
Roger’s said that triathlon is a lot of fun and while it is not a team sport, he enjoys the camaraderie of the triathlon community. “We have a training group that help us with our charity and we are called the Ratpack. My nickname was Rat when I played footy so we started the Ratpack with the mantra that, ‘We are not after elite athletes, we are after elite people’. If you want to come and help out, do a bit for the community, as well as getting yourself fit and healthy, we would love to have you on board.”
Roger’s said the Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon is a great weekend and he hopes the public make the effort to ‘get out and experience it’. “Last year watching the pros go around was awesome and it was just a treat to have the best in the world on the Gold Coast and on that course. It was really cool to watch them race and I am looking forward to going down and watching on Saturday, then following up with my own race on the Sunday,” he said.
Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon Sunday Program:
Gold Coast Superkidz Triathlon – 6:45am start
Gold Coast Enticer Triathlon – 7:00am start
Jewel Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial – 7:30am start
For further information, visit: ap.ironman.com/triathlon/events/asiapac/multisports/gold-coast