Sponsored Riders

Pushys Sponsored Athlete: Michelle Cooper

How did you get into triathlon?
I was training for the New York Marathon and during taper had all the usual twitches of wanting to do more than I should. My husband suggested I do a triathlon with him that weekend but I didn’t own a bike and hadn’t been in a pool since high school to do anything more than float around. By Thursday I had a road bike, on Friday I had fallen off that road bike and busted my knee, ankle and palms and on Sunday I jumped into the water at Raby Bay for a sprint distance race. It was the single hardest thing I had done and I hated every second of it. But, having not trained at all I got what I deserved and I decided that I couldn’t judge the sport based on my lack of preparation. So I set about training when I returned from New York and committed that I wouldn’t leave the sport until I had done the right thing by it. I’m still here today and it’s now a huge part of my life.

Hardest thing about racing? 
These days it is removing my coach’s hat and focusing on my own race. I am easily distracted by someone in need and often sacrifice my own goals to support them. I’d say it is worth it. However initially it was overcoming the fear of the things I hadn’t yet mastered. I had to learn to swim in open water which terrified me, I had to learn to use clip in pedals and all the other things that go into triathlon but I studied diligently and keep learning something new every day that makes racing more and more enjoyable. During any given race there are things within your control and I concentrate on those. The things outside my control like the crashes I have had, the mechanicals that change race plans, overwhelming heat and more are the times when your preparation, self-belief and mental toughness really come into play.

A late entrant to triathlon, I have committed to being the best I can be whilst forging a strong professional career, volunteering in the community on boards and raising an outstanding human being – a daughter! I balance taking from the sport (as an athlete) with giving back (as a coach and board director) to ensure I use all my skills and experience to leave the sport better than I found it, because it has made me better than when I started.

What does a typical training week look like?
In a perfect week I swim 10km, ride 200km on the road and spend 3-5 hours on the turbo trainer, run 20-40km and spend 5-6 hours on core, strength and balance work. Most weeks don’t work out like that thanks to work commitments and more than 15 hours a week coaching other athletes but I juggle it the best I can.

Where does coaching fit into your triathlon aspirations?
Coaching is an incredibly hard but rewarding element of my triathlon journey. I might not be the best athlete out there but I am a motivated student of the sport. I enjoy pushing my knowledge though the mentors I am lucky enough to have and the networks I have developed. As an accredited Triathlon Australia development coach, I enjoy helping people find new strength in themselves that they didn’t dream was there. I founded SBR Triathlon with my husband and head coach David in 2013 and whilst we maintain a high athlete to coach ratio, our growth has been fabulous. We’ve made wonderful friends and feel honoured to be part of their journey.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Often it is from how much some of my athletes struggle that drives me to be better. I don’t feel I have the right to complain when I don’t have half the challenges they do.

What are your best motivational tips?
You have to want it. You truly have to find your purpose in doing something so it matches the effort you are going to have to put in to achieve it. In other words, if the goal doesn’t “fit” you, get a new one. It can’t be someone else’s either or you’ll hate every minute of it. Then once you have that, pick just one small element of it and chase that down hard. Be single minded and work out the steps you need to take to achieve that very first piece of the puzzle and go after it. Once you have one success under your belt, you’ll find it easier to tackle the next one.

2018 IN REVIEW 

Highs
2018 had more highs than I thought would occur. I set out to race hard and often and came away with lots of new personal best times. It was also my first year of really pushing long course distances that I didn’t have a stress fracture! I met amazing people and travelled to cool places to race which were big highs. My training statistics were excellent averaging around 10 hours a week despite all the travel, downtime and working. I rode more, climbed more hills and generally pushed harder than ever before. We filmed Maxing Out and I became Triathlon Australia President. Pretty solid year really.

Lows
There are always lows in a year but it is what you do with them. After racing so hard to qualify for the Australian team, I missed out by one place. More disappointing, one of the women ahead of me didn’t end up racing meaning I could have been in the team. That was really hard to swallow but I threw myself into supporting the team instead and loved every minute of that experience. After pushing really hard into Ironman Philippines and dealing with the horrendous race conditions there I got really sick with the flu, then the 100 day cough, then pneumonia so I basically didn’t train between Philippines and Roth. It showed in my results – I was exhausted but I wasn’t there to race anyway – I was there to support the others so I am still happy with how I did.

What did you learn?
That I am still getting better and there is plenty left to achieve. I learned that being selfish sometimes makes sense and being selfless at other times brings great joy. I learned that sometimes you just have to say yes, and work it out afterwards. That’s my mantra for 2019.

Future goals?
I really want to race even more in 2019. I want to represent Australia in both the long course world championships in Spain in early May and in the short course world championships in Switzerland in September. Two Aussie teams in a year would be cool. I want to race 3 Ironman again this year building carefully and slowly up to the final one to give it my all for a new personal best. If I can afford it and make the time, I’d like to accept my slot at The Championships in Samorin over the half distance. 3 world championships in one year would be amazing. I want to ride more, run more, swim more and lift more to be the best version of me I can be in 2019.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

2018

  • November 2018 – Challenge Asia Pacific Championships Taiwan – 2nd!!!!!
  • August 2018 – 70.3 Sunshine Coast – 23rd and new PB
  • July 2018 – Challenge Roth – 53rd (double age groups!)
  • June 2018 – Ironman Philippines – 11th and first Australian finished
  • May 2018 – Runaway Noosa 33km run – new PB
  • April 2018 – St Kilda Olympic distance – 30th and new PB (yes I was getting faster and the placings getting lower – qualification races!!)
  • March 2018 – Victor Harbour Olympic distance – 12th and new PB
  • March 2018 – Coffs Harbour Olympic distance – 9th and new PB

Earlier highlights

  • November 2017 – Ironman Cozumel 13th and new PB and first Australian finished
  • 2016 ITU World Championships Cozumel, Mexico
  • 2015 ITU World Championships Chicago, USA
  • 2015 Ironman Cairns
  • 2014 Ironman Busselton
  • 2014 70.3 Ironman Sunshine Coast
  • 2014 Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro
  • 2013 70.3 Ironman Sunshine Coast
  • 2013 Gold Coast Airport Marathon
  • 2013 Ironman Cairns
  • 2013 Schneider Electric Paris Marathon
  • 2012/13 Gatorade QTS Series Age Group top 10
  • 2011 ING New York City Marathon

2016 World Championships:

  • Qualified top 4 in Australia in aquathlon
  • The only Queenslander to represent Australia in aquathlon
  • Qualified top 10 in Australia in Olympic distance
  • One of only 2 Queenslanders to represent Australia in Olympic distance

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