Kinross Wolaroi’s Connor Whiteley brought his school triathlon career to a perfect end in last week’s Australian Schools Triathlon Festival at Penrith, sealing his best results since debuting at the national event five years ago.
Whiteley snared bronze individually, his first podium finish, and also helped his NSW side to relay gold alongside fellow Orange athlete Lauren Kerwick.
Individually, Whiteley clocked 55.48 in the Senior Male Championship to finish third behind NSW’s Lorcan Redmond (55.14) and Queensland’s Dean Cane (55.39).
“It was always a goal this season to try and get on the podium, but the focus of the season became more about how we’d make that happen than the overall outcome,” Whiteley, in year 12, beamed.
“It was my fifth year competing and each year I’ve been getting better ... so it was great to finish up with a podium.”
Whiteley came out of the water in 9.46, clocked 28.22 on the bike and finished with a 5km run time of 16.24.
“I was happy with the race, I had a good swim. The bike was tough, very tough. We all got off in a fairly big pack and then it came down to the run,” he explained.
“The guy who won, he went off the front straight away and then there was a group of three of us all running together, myself and two Queenslanders. Fortunately I was able to hold off one of them.”
In the Senior Championship Relay, Whiteley and Kerwick helped NSW clock 1.14.01 and claimed gold.
Kerwick also finished eighth in her Senior Women’s Championship, clocking 1.03.11.
“It was great having Lauren in the NSW team win as well, [Orange] had Abby (Dean) and a handful of others competing too,” Whiteley explained.
Dean clocked 44.30 to finish 21st in the Junior Female Championship while Jack Bilton won the Open Senior gold medal, finishing in 48.52.
“So Jack was a reserve for NSW, so it was great for him to still be able to come and race, and win, in the opens,” Whiteley said.
“That was a great initiative, so even if you didn’t qualify you could still race at a national event.”
Whiteley’s focus turns to the non-school events from here on out.
Each year I’ve been getting better ... it was great to finish up with a podium.Kinross' Connor Whiteley
“I have another year in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Junior division, so that will be the focus for next year, to go as high as I can there,” he explained.
“The ITU world championships are on the Gold Coast next year too and the Commonwealth Games are up there as well next year, so it’ll be a really big year for triathlon. It’s great to see those events in Australia.
“[The Commonwealth Games are] probably a little close (to be a goal now). Down the track though, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, definitely.”
Whiteley thanked a number of people who have helped, supported and coached him throughout his school career.
“Big thanks to my parents, they’re the major sponsors,” he laughed.
“I need to thank my coach (HyPER Hy Performance Endurance Racing’s) Mel (Ashton-Garard) as well, along with my teammates, clubmates here and Kinross too.”