Giving Back To The Sport
Thursday, 29 October 2015, 6:00 AM
Changing her life from ‘corporate executive’ to ‘triathlete’, Ally communicates with passion and enthusiasm, sharing her phenomenal knowledge and experience with all those who dare to believe that they too can do something extraordinary. Ally has competed in everything from World Ironman Triathlon Championships to World Masters Swimming Championships and is now considered to be one of New Zealand Triathlon’s elite coaches. NZ Triathlon & Multisport magazine spoke to Ally about her past achievements, and find out what she hopes to achieve in 2015.
NZTM: Where do you live?
AB: Sunny Whangaparoa Peninsula on the Hibiscus Coast – 45mins north of Auckland’s CBD.
NZTM: Where did you grow up?
AB: Fiji, Kamo and Rotorua.
NZTM: What sports did you do as a child?
AB: Swimming, Athletics, Gymnastics, and Hockey.
NZTM: When did you get into this sport?
AB: I did my first Triathlon in 2001 – I think!
NZTM: What was your profession before triathlon?
AB: Freelance copy-writer and marketing consultant.
NZTM: Why did you decide to transition to a triathlete?
AB: I decided that life was for living outside the rat-race. I became self-employed at the age of 33, worked part-time, stopped drinking and partying, got fit and developed a new lease on life that was truly liberating!
NZTM: Who was your influence in triathlon?
AB: Hamish Carter – I watched the 2000 Sydney olympics race live and was riveted to the Tv – then I was hooked!
NZTM: Did you have any athletes who inspired you?
AB: Hamish Carter, Cameron brown – determination, disappointments and self-belief made them the outstanding athletes they became.
Photo © Scottie T Photography
NZTM: What was your first race? What are your memories of it?
AB: The Narrowneck Ice breaker – it was cold, I thought I was last, the 4km run absolutely killed me, I wanted to curl up and die, but I think I came 7th woman overall that day!
NZTM: What do you love about this sport?
AB: One never meets a bad triathlete – we are all touched with the same magic wand. We have the same determination, same passion for life, and it doesn’t matter if you are a world beater or a novice, we race in the same races, talk to one another, and there are no judgements made. One big happy family!
NZTM: What has been your favourite event so far?
AB: The Auckland 70.3 – what a course, what an atmosphere. Just awesome!
NZTM: And was your greatest success?
AB: Qualifying for and finishing the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2007.
NZTM: You are now a qualified triathlon coach, how many athletes do you coach?
Ab: I coach hundreds in swim technique over the course of a year. I have coached up to 25 athletes with triathlon programmes, but have made reductions here to ensure each client gets the level of attention they deserve.
NZTM: What words of advice would you give to up and coming athletes?
AB: Recovery’ is a magic word. Ensure you allow yourself time to recover from every session. Triathletes by personality become obsessed with ticking all the boxes on their training schedules. A coach cannot possibly predict fatigue in all the right places, so take control and assess your own schedule to fit with your energy levels and time availability.
NZTM: What have been your proudest coaching achievements so far?
AB: That is so hard to pick, as there have been many. Watching any athlete complete a race makes me proud – it is such a huge achievement regardless of the distance or the level of the athlete. Coaching professional athletes in swim technique is extremely rewarding – seeing their careers progress as they take big chunks off their swim times is exciting for sure. Watching Maddie Dillon win the Under 19 Age group World Champs in gold Coast 2009 was extremely special, not to mention watching the numerous other athletes I coach exceed their expectations is simply overwhelming. Many of my athletes have qualified for World Championship events, and some have podiumed – it’s simply a pleasure to be a small part of their own success stories.
NZTM: Goals for the future of triathlon?
AB: I would like to see emphasis placed on swim technique over miles at all levels, but in particular with New Zealand’s elite athletes. Triathletes exert a lot of energy trying to swim longer and faster for little gain, when a few tweaks on body position, effective kicking technique and power generated from rotation will ensure a faster swim with the investment of a little time and concentration. I am extremely passionate about this, and have learned from experience that technique training is so much more beneficial over miles in triathlon. Swimming drills, drills, and more drills, (and lots of kicking sets) will make us swim faster – we are already fit with cycling and running, why punish ourselves with over-exertion in a swim squad?
NZTM: And finally, what are your goals for 2015?
AB: Personal – Coast to Coast and the great Wall of China Marathon. Coaching – enjoying the successes of my athletes – if they don’t succeed, I feel partly responsible!
Originally published in NZ Triathlon & Multisport Issue 101, April 2015