From addicted to smoking to addicted to racing and now … WORLD CHAMP September 3, 2001 Navy Reservist ABDIV Kevin Fergusson shows the relief of crossing the line to win his age category at the World Triathlon Championship in Edmonton, Canada. Photo by Jim Brackenbury – International Triathlon Union .
When ABDIV Kevin Fergusson first took up triathlons almost ten years ago, he did it to help beat a packet-a-day smoking habit. These days, he’s quit smoking but has a new addiction that has paid huge dividends after he took first place in the 40-44 years age category at the World Triathlon Championships at Edmonton, Canada. “With my work as a commercial diver, we were staying in pubs and I was smoking and drinking and going down the wrong track, and that’s when triathlons hit me and I’ve never looked back,” Kevin told Navy News. He did his first triathlon in December 1992 and soon made a New Year’s resolution to give up smoking and continue with triathlons. He’s kept the resolution and is now a world champion after two previous attempts – a fourth placing in 1997 and a second placing last year.
Kevin has also not been defeated in Australia in his age category since 1995 and now says he is totally addicted to racing. A Navy Reservist since 1990 and operations manager of outdoor activities at the Department of Sport and Recreation in Adelaide, Kevin has been a regular in the St George Triathlon Series and even posted a sixth placing outright in his first professional race prior to the world championships. On being a world champion, Kevin said it didn’t really sink in until he returned to Australia.
“To win in a foreign country without the Australian support was a bit different, but when I came back home it sunk in, with everyone sending you emails and cards and shaking your hand all the time and you’re getting these interviews, it certainly hits home, and it’s pretty awesome I can tell you.”
The flow-on effects have also increased his sponsorship potential, having picked up a new, lighter bike that knocked a considerable chunk out of his times. Kevin also says the bike leg is easily his strongest and he held a two-minute and 32-second lead at the bike/run transition at the world titles after exiting the swim leg in third place.
“I had a lead coming off the bike, but I didn’t think that was going to be enough because the bloke that beat me in Perth (world titles 2000), Tony Schiller (ex-Olympian) is a pretty freaky guy in America and has won some prestigious races,” said Kevin, recalling the race.
“So I just ran as hard as I could and it wasn’t until the last turnaround when I had just over 2kms to go that I felt I’d had enough time up to win. “I was timing it each time I came past the turnaround and said ‘Yep, he hasn’t made up enough’, so that last 2kms I was feeling pretty good, except for the very end where I missed the finish chute.”
Kevin said he came through with a group of slow runners, with marshals waving him the wrong way to the turnaround until he realised he should be at the finish line. “So I had to sprint all the way back and head back down to the finishing chute. “We timed it and it was about 50 seconds I lost and it was lucky it wasn’t closer because second and third were having a sprint finish, so I only finished up winning by 15 seconds in the end.
“When you’re pushing yourself to the limit, you go into oxygen debt, so when someone says something you just do it – you don’t think.” Kevin finished the race as world champion, but while having a week in Canada, he found he also had some unfinished business. “I was having a look on the Internet and found a race in Vancouver.
We flew out on the Sunday and the race was on Sunday morning, so I thought while we’re in Canada, I might as well do one more.” Kevin won the race outright and beat the course record by five minutes, picking up an extra $150 Canadian for his troubles.
So, it’s no surprise to hear Kevin freely admit that an addiction has again got the better of him, however you won’t find him kicking this habit as easily as he did smoking. Keep an eye on the upcoming St George Triathlon Series in November, when Kevin will take on Australia’s elite professionals in open competition.
ADF results: World Triathlon Championship – 1.5km swim, 40km cycle, 10km run.
- AB Kevin Fergusson: 1st 40-44 years 1:59:38
- Mr Neil Whiteman: 46th 40-44 years 2:16:36
- CPL Dave Humphreys: 56th 40-44 years 3:9:12
- MAJGEN Peter Dunn: 46th 50-54 years 2:34:55