From fear to first in the world
A FEW years ago, duathlete and triathlete Katherine Ryan (48) still could not swim, traumatised by a near-drowning experience as a child. She is now a world champion. The mother of four self-funded a trip to Canada in August to represent Australia at the ITU Duathlon World Championship.
She was one of 3000 competitors who took on a 10km run, 40km cycle and 5km run and won the 45-49 year old age group by four seconds.
In September, Ryan competed in the ITU Standard Triathlon World Championships in Rotterdam, taking on a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run and finishing seventh, giving her a world ranking.
Now back in Perth, the Beatty Park Leisure Centre instructor and personal trainer is preparing for the ITU Standard Triathlon World Championships on the Gold Coast next year.
“Ever since I was little I was athletic, any team sport or gymnastics at school; I was not academic,” she said.
“But I had to learn how to swim. All I could do was float and I nearly drowned when I was nine.
“Then I came to a country where I’m surrounded by water, so I chose a job that incorporates me having to swim 200m in four different strokes.
“Then a girlfriend asked me to swim to Rottnest in a group and so I trained for that and got through it.”
Ryan’s dreams of world champion status were almost put on hold when she was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis about four years ago.
“I was in pain every day for five months, but I had to keep moving,” she said.
“Ongoing iron man training enhanced things and I qualified for a competition in Hawaii, but I got there and everything seized up. I finished, got the shirt but thought I’d never do it again. It’s now under control.”
Katherine Ryan (on bike), who could not even swim a few years ago, is now world duathlon champion. She is pictured here with Vincent Mayor Emma Cole.