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.
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.