Well pre­pared for ‘the worst day in sport’

Multisport Mecca - - Ironman World Championship - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­[email protected]

WHEN the can­non goes off to start the most un­pre­dictable Iron­man race on the plant at Hawaii, one thing is as­sured. Josh Minogue will swim fast.

The boy has form in the wa­ter. In fact, he’s raced the world’s great­est swim­mer – Michael Phelps.

“I have never been more in­tim­i­dated in my life,” Minogue said of their clash in the 200m but­ter­fly at Cal­i­for­nia dur­ing 2006.

“I’m in lane six and Michael Phelps is in lane four. At the time I swam about two min­utes for 200 but­ter­fly, which wasn’t enough but wasn’t ter­ri­ble, but he swam 1:54. I knew I was in deep, deep trou­ble.

“Sit­ting in the mar­shalling area, he came in with a hoodie over his head and his head­phones in and I have never been less fo­cussed on what I was sup­posed to be do­ing and more fo­cussed on what he was do­ing.

“I think I had him for about six or seven me­tres be­fore he spat me out the back.”

Hon­ing his craft un­der the guid­ance of coach Ron McKeon, the fa­ther of noted swim­mers David and Olympic gold medal­list Emma, Minogue went “all in” but failed to make Aus­tralian open swim teams for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

But post swim­ming, he dis­cov­ered en­durance pedi­gree when re­turn­ing to surf sports which had in­spired him as a nip­per grow­ing up in Wol­lon­gong.

Rid­ing a sharp learn­ing curve, he had to im­prove board pad­dling, ski and run­ning, which led him to the Sun­shine Coast un­der the guid­ance of former Mooloolaba coach Michael King with the likes of Matt Poole, Alex Tib­bits and Ali Day.

He ul­ti­mately earned a spot in the surf se­ries and lived the life of a semi-pro­fes­sional with races tele­vised through­out the sum­mer.

“I got my­self in and pro­ceeded to get ab­so­lutely smashed for a sum­mer run­ning 17th and 16th and I think I got a 12th, but I was in the se­ries,” Minogue said.

“I prob­a­bly knew deep down I

was never go­ing to be Shan­non or Zane (Eck­stein) or Ky Hurst but I was liv­ing my dream. I was happy to be there...we had a re­ally good time and I wished I had en­joyed it more be­cause I was su­per stressed about com­ing 16th.”

Slow pro­gres­sion saw Minogue ul­ti­mately gain some top 10 fin­ishes, yet an an­kle in­jury forced him briefly out of the se­ries. But by 2014, at the age of 27, he had tired of try­ing to re-qual­ify for the se­ries ev­ery Septem­ber.

Af­ter be­ing belted by a wave while on his ski dur­ing one of the

qual­i­fi­ca­tion races (de­spite hav­ing a hefty lead at the time), that rel­e­gated him in the field and saw him miss the se­ries cut.

Then de­cid­ing he was fin­ished, Minogue was ha­rassed by King to have one more crack at the Coolan­gatta Gold be­fore re­tire­ment af­ter four pre­vi­ous third plac­ings.

“Kingy rings me one last time and said ‘can you do this for me and af­ter this no mat­ter what the re­sult we are done and I’ll prom­ise I won’t bother you any more’,” Minogue said.

“He knew it was the right thing. He knew I had more to give and I was so fit at that point that it would be a shame to waste it.”

Minogue went on to win the 41.8km tor­ture test, en­com­pass­ing mul­ti­ple legs of ski, board, run and swim, and join some of the big­gest name in the sport. Yet mod­esty pre­vents him from claim­ing le­gend sta­tus.

“I’m happy just be­ing on the (win­ners) list. I’m prob­a­bly the worst bloke to win that race but whether I de­serve it or not is not for me to say. It was rad, I wouldn’t give it back,” he said.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing with surf sports, Minogue got a taste of triathlon at Noosa dur­ing 2015. Im­press­ing with an out­stand­ing swim and run, it was his bike that let him down.

Steadily im­prov­ing, the now 31-year-old im­pressed at Hell of the West last year to win his age group and trump some elite com­peti­tors.

Yet his first at­tempt to qual­ify for Hawaii at New Zealand fell flat af­ter strug­gling in windy con­di­tions. He re­turned to Iron­man WA last De­cem­ber where he got the cov­eted spot de­spite the swim be­ing can­celled due to a shark sight­ing.

He was fourth in the 30-34 age group with 4:51:15 for the 180km bike and a 3:22:23 marathon.

Now work­ing as head coach of Sun­shine Beach Surf Club, he’s been train­ing hard in re­cent months. Swim­ming with the Sage crew at Kawana and also do­ing some ses­sions with John ‘JR’ Rogers at Noosa, Minogue has been rid­ing four or five times a week while also im­prov­ing his run with the hope of achiev­ing a marathon less than 3hr 20min at Kona. “I call it long point­less ex­er­cise but I think that un­der­sells it,” Minogue said.

“The pro­fes­sional guys are some of the best ath­letes on the planet – to do the work they do day in, day out for the sea­son they do, for the pay they get.” Happy as a “punter age grouper”, Minogue has lit­tle ex­pec­ta­tion in Hawaii.

“It’s just the worst day in sport in the best way,” he said.

“If I can fin­ish in the top 50 in my age group then I would be stoked.”

PHOTO: DELLY CARR|TRIATHLON AUS­TRALIA

LEARN­ING AGAIN: Surf sports star turned triath­lete Josh Minogue, and the back page of the Sun­shine Coast Daily on Novem­ber 3, 2014.

PHOTO: WAR­REN LYNAM

SOLID PREPA­RA­TION: Josh Minogue com­petes at Iron­man 70.3 Sun­shine Coast dur­ing Au­gust.

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