Born Side by Side to be Triathletes

By Su

 

Originally from Perth, Australia, Michelle, a member of Thanyapura Pro Triathlon Team, has been involved since a very young age in athletics and track and field running. At ae age of 18, she decided to try out triathlon – her first race consisting of 200 meters swim, 10 kilometres cycling followed by 3 kilometres run. After an initial, and rather low investment that is an 80 AUD bike from K-Mart, she started her first triathlon, only to finish amongst the last people to cross the finish lane. Nevertheless, this first race was all she needed to get a new passion for a sport she now masters.michelle-katy-10

“From that race, and despite the not-so-good results, I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I started to invest into better equipment. It was not until I won my age group at a world championship in 2009 that I decided to do some longer distance.”

“After watching my sister, Katy compete in her first Ironman, I decided to give it a try and register to the Ironman Busselton in 2010, only to finish first of my age group and qualify for the Ironman World Championship in 2011, in Kona, Hawaii.”

“I was definitely not prepared for what was expecting me”, she said with a laugh. “I ended up 20th if I recall correctly; I was inexperienced and had only done one Ironman before; I wasn’t prepared physically or mentally, my nutrition was off and ended up spending the evening in the medical tent.”

This misadventure was not enough to discourage her to continue her passion and qualified for the 2013 Ironman World Championship in the same venue.Michelle_Duffield_11

“In 2013, my sister qualified for the Ironman World Championship and I really wanted to go with her, so I raced the Ironman Australia five weeks later and got my ticket to Kona. In 2013, we were the first Australian twins to race head to head at the Ironman World Championships. I had a good day as I finished second in my age group and 33rd female overall.”

This was her last race as an amateur as she came back to Australia to accept her professional racing license.

“When Thanyapura put the call out for athletes to come here, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to train full-time and take the next step for my competitive edge. I will compete at Challenge Roth in Germany later this month and will then come back here and do some more 70.3 races around Asia.”

When asked if becoming an athlete was her kids dream, the answer is a big YES.

“I developed a passion for sports at a very young age and always wanted to go to the Olympics one day. Nowadays I focus more on long distance and hope to make my career as a full-time professional athlete sustainable, which is dependent on prize money and sponsorship support.”

Having grown up in the countryside helped her and her sister to compete in a wide variety of sports from a very young age. Always being outdoors and playing with nature has made her a real sports and fitness addict, to the point that she feels the needs to train every day.

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“Katy has always inspired me; in the lead up to the Ironman World Championships in 2013, she developed a severe shin fracture but insisted on racing. Even watching the race footage you can see she was in a lot of pain, but she still made it to the finish line. I really look up to her.”

“Being able to compete at a professional level with my twin sister is very special to me. I love it when we can train together! Six months ago Katy moved to the other side of Australia, which was really hard to say goodbye to my best friend, and now I always look forward to when we catch up again next. As tough as it is to be so far apart, it does enable us to each develop our own identifies as people and athletes.”

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