Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Terry's inspirational triathlon performance

Nathalia's Matilda Terry claimed an emphatic victory in Saturday's Echuca-Moama Triathlon.

LUKE MCMANUS January 22, 2014 4:04am

Matilda Terry comes home in front during Saturday’s Echuca-Moama Triathlon.

Matilda Terry was only 14 when she competed in her first triathlon.

It was the Echuca-Moama Triathlon and she finished ‘‘dead last’’.

Terry admitted hating races at the time — they were slow and tiring and ‘‘I wasn’t very excited about them all’’.

But how things have changed.

Three years on, Terry took on last weekend’s event and claimed an emphatic victory, beating home not just those in her under 17 category but the entire women’s field.

‘‘I’m over the moon. To come from last to first in front of my home club was a great feeling,’’ she said.

So what turned it all around for the talented athlete?

‘‘We’d always been an active family and I’ve always done something,’’ she said.

‘‘When I put my mind to things, I keep doing it until I’m bored and move on to something else.

‘‘(Triathlon) has sort of stuck.’’

On top of a change of heart, Terry’s rise within the sport has been a culmination of an increase in training and a race-packed schedule which last summer had the rising star competing ‘‘nearly every single weekend’’.

Improved results at local and state level eventually led to an offer to join the Triathlon Victoria Development Program.

Terry has spent the last eight months receiving specialised coaching from the some of the best in the business.

‘‘I was never up there (in races) but still did pretty well,’’ she said.

‘‘I never thought I’d reach this level. It’s been a massive step up for me.

‘‘Before, my training was based around what dad thought I needed to work on, but now I have a specialised program from coaches.

‘‘Every race, I notice an improvement and I get further away from the back of the pack which is good.’’

Terry’s innate hunger to keep developing and trying different things eventually led to securing a place in Hawaii’s Offroad World Championships in October.

Up against eight other competitors in the 15 to 19 age category, proudly wearing her country’s green and gold colours, Terry finished third after a mammoth three-and-half-a-hours of racing.

‘‘It was nothing like I’d ever done before,’’ she said.

‘‘It was so hot and humid and the course was crazy, plenty of hills and a lot of rough terrain, everything about it was difficult.

‘‘But I loved every minute of it. Not many 17-year-olds can say they’ve done that.’’

From the beaches of Hawaii to the banks of the Murray River in Echuca, Terry’s perspective has remained the same throughout her short but promising career.

She treats every race as an ‘‘invaluable experience’’, adding that she always cherishes the smaller aspects like competing in front of familiar faces, just like she did on Saturday.

The Nathalia resident and St Mary of the Angels student will have to juggle year 12 and triathlon this year, which will be a challenge in itself.

But Terry, armed with a refreshing lease on life, said she was prepared for whatever might lie ahead and was eager to continue in the sport she once thought was ‘‘too slow and too hard.’’

‘‘It’s not my aim in life (becoming a professional triathlete) although it would be pretty awesome,’’ she said.

‘‘I found it difficult last year to manage the work load and commit to training but it all came together.

‘‘You always have to weigh up options and sometimes there are opportunities you just can’t pass up, otherwise what’s the point of all this training?

‘‘But other times you have to make sacrifices and put school first.

‘‘I don’t get upset about that.’’

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