Last­ing legacy

Multisport Mecca - - Lasting Legacy -

SPORT’S royal fam­ily has lost one of its great­est kings.

Garth Prowd OAM passed away on Sun­day af­ter a cy­cling ac­ci­dent while rid­ing in Barcelona on July 22.

Long re­garded as the ‘God­fa­ther’ of Aus­tralian triathlon, he is re­mem­ber as a re­mark­able man who made an in­cred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion to Aus­tralian sport.

An en­thu­si­as­tic sports­man him­self, Garth rev­o­lu­tionised triathlon, run­ning and cy­cling events.

He laid the foun­da­tion on which the Sun­shine Coast’s mul­tisport events port­fo­lio is built.

Garth had the per­cep­tion to recog­nise that sport could be an in­dus­try ca­pa­ble of tap­ping new bound­aries for tourism and busi­ness, as well as pro­vid­ing out­lets for in­di­vid­u­als to pur­sue their own goals.

He be­came in­volved in event man­age­ment and sports mar­ket­ing for al­most 30 years as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of USM Events, one of Aus­tralia’s largest and most suc­cess­ful event man­age­ment com­pa­nies stag­ing some of Aus­tralia’s largest and best known mul­tisport, triathlon, run­ning and cy­cling events.

Its events’ port­fo­lio also in­cluded a se­lec­tion of mu­sic, cul­tural and busi­ness events. Af­ter sell­ing the busi­ness in 2009 to Iron­man he be­came a highly sought-af­ter con­sul­tant in event man­age­ment, sports mar­ket­ing, events tourism and me­dia man­age­ment.

As news of Garth’s death broke on Mon­day tributes quickly flowed from friends, clubs, civic lead­ers and busi­ness and com­mu­nity groups whose ac­tiv­i­ties have ben­e­fited from his ad­vice and as­sis­tance.

Aged 65, he leaves be­hind the legacy of hav­ing rev­o­lu­tionised triathlon, run­ning and cy­cling as sport­ing events, which saw him nom­i­nated as Aus­tralian of the Year in 2000 and in 2005 be­ing awarded a Medal of the Or­der of Aus­tralia for his ser­vices to sport.

Noosa Surf Life Sav­ing Club pres­i­dent Ross Fisher said the club’s pa­tron had be­gun do­ing pa­trols in his teens and gone on to be­come a greatly-re­spected men­tor who was al­ways a happy, ap­proach­able per­son will­ing to of­fer ad­vice.

“He was a great bloke,” Ross said. “All those years he was tied up in triathlon with a heavy work­load he was al­ways there in the back­ground for the club.”

Mate Rus­sell Green said while peo­ple would re­mem­ber a lot of what he did in the events’ space, Garth saw his great­est achieve­ment as his mar­riage to Robyn, their daugh­ters and their grand­chil­dren.

“We are all bet­ter peo­ple for know­ing him,” Rus­sell said.

“He car­ried a hu­mil­ity that left him largely un­aware of the global es­teem in which he was held.”

Alexan­dra Head­land Surf Club gen­eral man­ager Ash­ley Robin­son, who has known Garth since they were kids, said his achieve­ments hadn’t changed him a bit.

“Whether it was the Prime Min­is­ter or the garbage col­lec­tor he treated ev­ery­one ex­actly the same,” he said.

Fol­low­ing a road bike ac­ci­dent in Barcelona on July 22 dur­ing a fam­ily hol­i­day, Garth was crit­i­cally in­jured and hos­pi­talised. He passed away peace­fully sur­rounded by his great­est love wife Robyn, daugh­ters Sally, Megan and Katie and son-in-laws Matt and Ben.

Ear­lier this year, Dave Power, the man cred­ited with start­ing Noosa Triathlon, passed away af­ter a long ill­ness at the age of 85.

In­ducted into the Sport Aus­tralia Hall of Fame in 1999, Dave was an Olympic bronze and Com­mon­wealth gold medal­list in long dis­tance run­ning.

“Dave’s orig­i­nal idea was for Noosa to have a marathon, but he and oth­ers worked on the idea of it be­com­ing a triathlon, and just look how big it’s be­come to­day,” Benny Pike said. “Dave was ex­tremely proud of the event and many oth­ers had enor­mous ad­mi­ra­tion for him.”

Dave rep­re­sented Aus­tralia at the 1956 Mel­bourne and 1960 Rome Olympic Games, win­ning bronze in the 10,000m event in Italy.

PHOTO: GE­OFF POT­TER

Garth Prowd (cen­tre) with for­mer AFL play­ers Scott West (left) and Nathan Brown in 2005.

Garth Prowd (right) ac­cepts the Olympic ba­ton from for­mer coun­cil­lor Tony Nor­thy.

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