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Army December 10, 2009
CPL Renee Nicholls finds it hard to
believe it has been only two years since
she tagged along with a friend to try her
hand at a triathlon.
One thing led to another and, at 27,
the PTI at Kokoda Barracks, Canungra, is
about to turn professional.
She'll now be swimming with even big-
ger fish -- which is a daunting prospect for
a triathlete whose weakest leg is in the
water -- but it was the logical step to take
for the world champion ironwoman in the
25-29 age group.
That honour was decided at the
Hawaiian Ironman (the world champion-
ships) at Kona in October. Cpl Nicholls is
still coming to grips with that result, her
third victory in only four races.
It seems no time since she finished third
in her first competition and the locals at
the club she raced with told her she was a
It was immediately evident her swim-
ming needed attention so she comman-
deered a swim coach named Matt Clarke,
who is now her triathlon coach.
He set her the challenge of winning an
ironman event then the national ironman,
which would then qualify her to have a
shot at a podium finish in Kona.
She did it all and more, including catch-
ing some of the professionals in the Kona
bike and run leg to finish an overall 19th
among the women.
The Hawaiian triumph might never have
eventuated if Cpl Nicholls had allowed cir-
cumstances to get the better of her.
Six weeks before the event she was hit
by a cab while training on her bike on the
Gold Coast. Severe bruising and concus-
sion hampered her preparation.
Then she had the dilemma of whether
to put the stress fractures in her left shin
through the rigours of an ironman event.
"I was told not to run because I could
snap it," she says. "But the people who told
me not to do it knew me better than that."
Back at work and in training again after
five weeks' R&R, Cpl Nicholls is plot-
ting her attack on the professional ranks,
starting by taking on the pro-class in the
Australian ironman titles in April.
Age is on her side (most triathletes peak
in their early 30s) as is her workplace. "I
am classed as an elite athlete in Defence,
which gives me some posting considera-
tion," she says.
"And my boss at Canungra is support-
ive. I get flexible hours so I can train and
compete. Just now, for instance, I ran a les-
son then went off for a three-hour ride. It
all works pretty well."
In with the big fish
Nerves of steel: Cpl Renee Nicholls crosses the line in Hawaii, celebrating her new status as the
world's No 1 competitor in the 25-29 age group.
Photo by WO2 Kristy McNaught
Charge: ARTC's Cpl Jason Johnson
takes on ALTC tacklers.
Photo by Sharpshot Photographics
ALTC' No 2 team has proved it is up
to the furious pace of nine-man rugby
league, winning the inaugural show-
down with its counterparts at ARTC.
The Kapooka rugby league nines com-
petition made its debut last month as part
of the centre's K series sporting events.
Seven teams took part in the competi-
tion, which culminated in a grand final
between ALTC's No 2 side and ARTC.
176 AD Sqn edged out RAAF STT
Wagga for third place.
Under the guidance of the Group 9
Rugby League Referees Association, the
matches were fast paced and punctuated
with minimal stoppages.
Each game consisted of seven-minute
halves separated by a two-minute break.
In addition to observing some modified
rules, the match officials used the two-ref-
eree system, which proved a hit with the
Riverina Country Rugby League
representative David Skinner said the
Kapooka Nines "are a fantastic concept
and one that we fully support, with the
matches played at a high standard".
The style of play in nines rugby league
is a little different to the 13-man game
and, because of that, teams found them-
selves adjusting as the games went on. The
tactics that worked against one team were
not necessarily the best ones to employ
against another team.
Team nominations for next year's Kapooka nines, on
November 13, can be lodged with ARTC Operations
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