I started triathlon in Brussels back in 1988 inspired to beat my parents who both were good Triatheletes.
I got the bug straight away and gave up Scouts and basketball to allow myself more time to train. I was part of the Belgian National Junior team in 1996 and I won the Junior National Championship Series the same year. In 1997, I decided to turn Pro and work part time at my Dad’s importing business.
Unfortunately I ended up with some injuries and after my fifth surgery I decided to move to Australia to live with my future wife Belinda; whom I met during a training camp.
I kept doing triathlon for a while and tried a few different jobs. I had a three year break from 2006 til 2009 and, probably in some way due to the fact I was importing (and taste testing) Belgian truffles and chocolates, I put on a fair amount of weight. I decided that I had to change my life and get healthy again.
I enrolled as an enduranceteam.net coach and I have been working with many talented up and coming Aussies ever since. However, something was always missing in my career; I wanted to become world champ. I narrowly missed out on the Gold Coast in 2009 and in Auckland in 2012 so I was determined to win one in Canada this year.
I had a good winter of training in Geelong with my squad and raced well in a few local runs and Duathlons. We arrived in Canada on Saturday 23 August late pm after 30 hours travel. My bike did not arrive and I ended up having to wait til Wednesday night to get it.
The Aquathlon came around quickly on Wednesday pm. The hot and sunny day was going to make the race harder over the 750m swim and 4.6kms run. The swim level was amazing and, with swimming being one of my strengths, I was surprised to only get out of the water in fourth position. Running is not my strength, but I worked hard on it and got my 5kms time under 17 minutes. I went steady but 2.3kms to go Craig Davis (an Aussie) yelled out 10 seconds from the lead. I went all out and managed to catch the American with only 1km to go.
That first gold tasted sweet and it was a dream come true for me. But for now, it was time to put my recovery hat on. I had a sprint to do in 44 hours.
I woke up pretty sore and doubting my chances to do a double. But once the adrenaline kicked in, I was fine and was second out of the water, 20 seconds back. I went out hard on the bike and got a 90 second gap on the competition which was needed as the second and third across the line were pure runners.
The second title was amazing as this was my first in triathlon. I could not really believe what just happened!
Now, the question on my mind was – could I get the triple crown?
My body felt good and I ticked all the recovery boxes. In the last day, Monday 1st September, the race started at 8:10am and it was freezing. I went out hard on the swim and when I looked back I had a gap, so I kept going on my own. The bike was hard, my legs were frozen and sore but I kept motivated myself with idea of the triple crown. But I got angry, behind they were drafting. There was a group of 5 riding together and closing in. I got off the bike 30 seconds in front of them and I was convinced I was going to get caught by those fresher cheating legs. But, with 5kms to go, the Aussies yelled out that I still had a 20 second gap. I then went all out to grab my third title and ended up winning by 40 seconds in front of the Canadian favourite.
This still does not feel like it happened.
It is an amazing feeling to be triple world Champ but I get even more satisfaction from my ET squad who did amazing. We ended up collecting 7 medals for 5 Athletes! This is why I love my job so much, for amazing moments like this, when they get the reward from those hard months training in the cold and for those moments when we share intense emotions and feeling of achievement.
I will now focus on goal number four. China LD Worlds on 21st September and why not get my 4th gold 🙂
Thanks for your support!