Shepparton has mostly been a happy hunting ground for South Australian triathlete Matty White during the years.By Marc McGowan
Shepparton has mostly been a happy hunting ground for South Australian triathlete Matty White during the years.
Last year’s Ironman 70.3 Shepparton was not one of those times.
White arrived in town as reigning champion for the first time, but brought a recently injured right calf with him.
The now 35-year-old’s day was doomed from the time he re-injured his calf leaving the water to enter first transition.
White was still good enough to be in the lead on the bike leg, but was one of three competitors, including Ollie Whistler and Matt Bailey, who accidentally — but illegally — turned before the correct point and saved about 30 seconds.
They later served a five-minute penalty, but it mattered little to White, who had no intention of starting the run leg because of his injury.
White is back in Shepparton today with a healthy body and fresh outlook on life in preparation for Sunday’s 15th instalment of the race.
He became a father to daughter Elodie for the first time six months ago.
White’s decision last week to enter next month’s Ironman Western Australia at Busselton has also sparked a motivation resurgence.
‘‘I need an ironman win and I’m going to have a real crack at Busselton,’’ White said.
‘‘My form has taken a different direction since I’ve decided to do it and I’m more motivated with a goal now.
‘‘I can definitely see myself finishing pretty high up in Busso and that’s given me a lot more motivation.
‘‘The last time I raced well in Busso, I won Shepp (in 2010), so, hopefully, I can replicate that and go one step higher in Busso and take honours in Shepp again — that would be beautiful.’’
White has always appreciated the proximity of Shepparton to his hometown and even more so since Elodie’s arrival.
‘‘It’s pretty close to home for me and I’ve got a little baby now, so it makes it a lot easier to drive somewhere,’’ he said.
‘‘I’d rather drive for 10 hours than fly for an hour now, with the baby and the prams and car seats, and it’s a good, honest, flat course.’’
White’s recent performances include a fourth-place finish in the Australian Pro Championship at Mandurah and a victory for the second straight year in the Murray Man Triathlon.
But he will have to beat what he said was a ‘‘cracker field’’ in Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Shepparton.
New Zealander Terenzo Bozzone, who has dominated the 70.3 circuit this year, is favourite, but defending champion Leon Griffin and White’s good friend Tim Reed also have genuine claims.
White said it would take a ‘‘special athlete’’ to break Luke Bell’s 2004 race record of three hours, 45 minutes and 45 seconds.
Sunday’s race starts at 7
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But have opponents given up the fight?
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Sheep producers backcrossing away from the Dohne breed to Poll Merinos with the perception of improving wool quality have been urged to consider their gross margins.
The hunt is on for a buyer for Benalla and Mansfield Toyota after the business went into receivership last fortnight.
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