Geelong Advertiser 4th March 2014
GEELONG athlete Brooke Williams has made an inspired move to triathlons, qualifying for a world championship.
Just five weeks after deciding to quit mountain running on the back of a string of injuries, Williams finished ninth in an Australian title — her first triathlon.
The 23-year-old will travel to Canada for the world championships in August, just 13 months after contesting the World Mountain Running Championships in Poland.
Williams said she made the decision to cross to triathlon racing after battling chronic injuries, including patella inflammation and plantar fasciitis, when she returned from Europe.
“I was injured in the world championships and when I came back I had three rounds of cortisone and 12 weeks off and I wasn’t able to use any of my lower body,” Williams said.
“I moved back home over the summer and I was a bit unfit and I decided to get some fitness and I was encouraged to try triathlons.”
Williams met former professional triathlete Stephane Vander Bruggen, Geelong’s endurance team coach who won a national title in Tasmania at the weekend, and decided to make the switch.
“Stephane has been in triathlons for 26 years and out of all the coaches I’ve had — Olympians and Sonia O’Sullivan — he was the first person to be totally honest with me,” Williams said.
“I had five weeks of training and Stephane said ‘you’re ready for a race’ and it was the Australian championships.
“I was freaking out and I thought I was going to get smashed.
“I was only two metres in the water, which was this grey filthy washing machine, and I got kicked in the face.
“But I kept going and I ended up finishing ninth in my age group and that qualified me for the world champs.”
Despite being apprehensive about quitting athletes, Williams now believes she has made the right decision.
“It was hard to let go of athletics. Steps said I had to let it go because I was a different person and that was really hard,’’ she said.
“But I put all my medals, Geelong records, race numbers and diaries in a box and I just said goodbye.
“I knew it was the right decision to make. It was hard but I knew it was right.”