O'Neill overcomes bike setback

EMMA O’Neill had her bike stolen at Christmas time.

But the Ballarat triathlete didn’t let it ruin her 2014 preparation.

O’Neill, 29, used her mother’s bike to power to her first Warrnambool Sufferfest victory yesterday. 

The Ballarat mother of three finished the gruelling long-course triathlon in four hours, 30 minutes and 26 seconds, collecting a winner’s cheque she’ll put towards a new bike.

O’Neill won the women’s section from Amanda Wilson (4.35.42) and Michelle Hemley (4.40.05).

She said the two-kilometre swim, 80km ride and 20km run was tough and required a strong mental focus.

“I found it hard with the hills,” she said. 

“The last five kilometres of the run was the toughest of the day. 

“The swim was pretty good but the course is quite hilly so that’s the hardest part.”

O’Neill and Wilson had their own battle throughout the race, with O’Neill gaining a winning edge on the bike leg. “I passed her halfway on the bike and I was steady on the run,” she said.

“It is pretty exciting. I didn’t think I’d be able to win it but I just kept slugging along.”

O’Neill’s sister Kate also completed the Sufferfest course. 

The family kept celebrations to a minimum with another triathlon in May to train for.

“We’re training for the Port Macquarie ironman and after that we get to celebrate,” she said.

Seaford rising star Tom Rodgers won the men’s Sufferfest section in 3.45.45. 

The Sufferfest, and its shorter distance Olyfest, is in its second year. 

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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