Training stepped up
Josh Te Kowhai is a humble man who prefers not to be the centre of attention.
The man nicknamed the ‘Sheriff of Koutu’ has had to get a little more used to the spotlight, however, since being named a recipient of the Tony Jackson Scholarship for Kellogg’s NutriGrain Ironman New Zealand eight weeks ago.
Surrounded by friends, family and workmates when he was surprised in a staged reveal, 44-year-old Te Kowhai is still a bit embarrassed by the fuss, but humbled by the support.
“To be honest it was quite surreal, I ran back in and everyone was clapping, and I was just going ‘what is everyone clapping for?’ I tried to duck out of everyone’s line of sight and I looked up and saw the camera on me and I thought ‘oh my gosh’, it was so surreal.
“I realised what was happening then when I saw the Ironman logos on the shirts, but it was so surreal — and amazing, all mixed in together.”
Left wrecked by a car accident in 2004, when living in Australia, Te Kowhai broke all the bones in his ankles, shattered both knees, smashed his jaw and all of his teeth and broke both wrists and arms.
He was told by doctors he would never walk or play sports and would need to look at a new career. At that time, he was at the peak of his rugby career playing professional rugby for the Brumbies feeder team.
A long journey followed, one that saw him return to rugby and then eventually home to New Zealand, where he has since established himself as a personal trainer, working with those in the Rotorua community, including atrisk youth.
Used to supporting and mentoring others, Te Kowhai is enjoying the support offered to scholarship athletes, stepping up his training as he maps out a plan to March 2 next year.
“Thanks to the Tony Jackson Scholarship, Boost Coaching has come on board to help me out. They are sending me daily workouts which is good.
“I had actually started swimming the day before the big reveal, with Ironman in mind. I was thinking I will see how I am going in November and decide if I should enter or not.
“So since then everything has picked up a bit. Swimming is my weakest leg, so I have been working hard on the drills that Boost has sent me. I do all my swimming by myself, but the drills have been great, and the swimming is coming along alright.
“My knees struggle along as a result of the crash, and the weather has not been kind to my arthritis this year, so the running has been hard. I am hoping that the improving weather brings that right though.
“We have been wind training on the bikes for over a year with a solid group of people who do that and ride together every weekend as well.”
Te Kowhai is a former New Zealand representative in rugby and boxing so knows what’s needed to be successful. He also knows that Ironman New Zealand is a very personal journey for him, but one that can inspire others.
“I am doing this for myself first and foremost. It is a big goal, but I am also, hopefully, going to inspire people around me to do whatever they want to do, whether that is a small triathlon, jumping in the boxing ring or maybe like me, doing an Ironman.
“I think the need for that motivation to be active is huge in our community, I call them the Playstation generation and I think they need all the encouragement and help to get outside and get into sport.”
You can rest assured that Te Kowhai knows how to pace himself and give himself every chance of not just competing but enjoying the experience.
“I am very happy, I am trying to not overdo anything, and I am not panicking. I have told everyone I am enjoying the experience and that is how I want it to be from start to finish, through training and the race. I want to enjoy the entire process.”
Rotorua’s Josh Te Kowhai has been training hard for this year’s Ironman New Zealand.