Yesterday I had the pleasure of celebrating Matt Hopper's and Melissa Trims wedding. Matt raced 4 seasons as an Australian ITU elite, and represented the Australian elite team at the 2007 Hamburg Worlds and 2008 Vancouver Worlds before his retirement, in which he finished a solid 23rd. Mel also raced internationally, but not quite at the level that Matt got to. These two newly wed athletes, and most of the crowd at the wedding last night have had a pretty big influence on my upbringing in the sport. I spent most of my early athletic years looking up to Matt as a pro on the circuit, and most of the other energetic age groupers in our great squad formerly under the guise of the once-great coach Brendan Terry. So it was great to catch up with everyone at the wedding, specifically one of the guys I used too look up to in sickening (OMG this guy is really fast) proportions, who goes by the name of Lee Mounster.
Most people probably wont know Lee, but he raced a few world cups back in the day before quitting at age 25 around 2003 I think. One story that comes to mind about Lee is from the Syndey World Cup in 2000, and while I can't 100% confirm the validity of this story, I can put it together in patches. Lee was in a break with Chris McCormack on the bike until they both crashed riding down the horridly steep Maquarie Street (spelling?), which is the street Jan Frodeno crashed on in this years race a decade on. Chris busted his front wheel in the crash, whilst Lee busted his rear wheel; thus only one of the two could continue the race if either of them helped each other with a true wheel. I think Chris ended up bullying Lee to the point where lee gave up his front wheel to the front-wheel-less Macca to avoid a fight, as to which Macca could then continue the race. Someone correct me if this is total bullshit, but this is what my young and impressionable mind remembers.
Anyway lee passed some wisdom over to me last night over a Cascade beer, which happens to be a beer from a Tasmanian brewery that he grew up 5 minutes away from. We firstly had a good chat about beer, and when the Cascade thing came up I think that's when we started to get cozy. He told me that despite not really ever achieving the success in Triathlon he was hoping for, he wouldn't change a thing, and wouldn't change the outcomes. Lee ended up quitting the sport because he had had enough of the gypsy-college student lifestyle, and went on search for a normal life pursuing perhaps far more financially rewarding pastures. Lee now sells luxury cars and is quite successful, living on mountain top real estate. Nevertheless, Lee will be the first one to tell you that he didn't pass the 10th grade at school after he dropped out with no qualifications. But ultimately, Lee tole me that his recent success in business is all owed to Triathlon. He explained to me that Triathlon is the equivalent of a degree. It teaches the things that a degree teaches; although not the gritty information, but rather the value and experiences gained after finishing a degree. He told me that Triathlon taught and facilitated everything he knows; honesty, integrity, determination and above all, commitment. In every little detail, Triathlon is a sport that you need to commit yourself too, and if you can come through at the other end saying that you truly applied yourself 100% to try and achieve your goals, then Lee believes you can achieve in life. Triathlon was Lee's education, and there's no reason the same can't apply for all us all.
Now that that's said, it's time to go do that session I've been putting off in rain soaked Brisbane.