Australian Para-triathlete and triple Paralympian Gerrard Gosens competed at the world reknowned Noosa triathlon with an eye on qualifying for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
There’s been no stopping Gerrard Gosens OAM ever since he walked proudly into Yeppoon State High aged 15 with his first trusty guide dog by his side – defying everything and anything that got in his way.
Life for the congenitally blind Gosens has been one helluvan adventure, from graduating high school to achieving university honours to climbing Mt Everest, a chocolatier who runs his own chocolate business in Brisbane and an executive officer to boot.
And throw in the fact that he is also a triple Paralympian – and a legendary semi-finalist on Dancing with the Stars who has run the 2000km between Cairns and Brisbane five times for Charity.
A Para-triathlete since 2016 after representing Australia at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics in goalball, Sydney 2000 in athletics (5000m, 10,000m and the Marathon) before making Beijing 2008 in the 1500m.
He had targeted a fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo until the COVID-19 pandemic set his dreams asunder.
But now Gosens has targeted the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where the men’s PTVI Para-triathlon makes its Games debut.
Triathlon Australia caught up with Gosens at the Noosa Triathlon where he joined 9,000 triathletes for the 38th running of the five day multi-sports festival.
Gosens said, “My goal was to go to Tokyo this year (for a fourth Games) but my last three qualifying events were in Europe which I couldn’t get to – well I probably could have got there but I may not have been able to get home due to COVID restrictions.”
“Those last three qualifying events were in London, Spain and France and they were in May and June of this year and I could have rolled the dice and tried to qualify for the Games at those three events but the chance was I would not get home.
“Due to covid I would not get back into Australia – in fact I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere at all getting out of Europe.
“Because I’ve done three Paralympic Games was this time worth the risk to me and to my guides, forced to quarantine for a vast number of weeks, being stuck overseas…without their families.
“But now my goal is to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and I’m well down the track on the qualification trail for Birmingham.
“I figured, wouldn’t it be a great time to retire after the Commonwealth Games?
“I have represented Australia for a long time – my first team was back in 1990 at an Athletics World Cup (so it will be a 32-year journey).”
But what drives this remarkable Australian who has never seen the Australian flag, has never seen the green and gold tracksuit and never seen an Australian uniform.
“I don’t need to have vision to have that belief (in being an Australian) and out of all those things I don’t need to see them to have the passion, the commitment and desire to represent my country,” said this remarkable Australian.
“For me it’s (actually) not about the green and gold….it’s about the chance of who I am as an Australian to represent my country.
“And life has continued on despite the large number of challenges presented to a totally blind athlete from the day-to-day challenges of training and the challenges of local, state and international competition.
“Despite all those challenges, it’s purely about the desire of being a proud Australian.
“For me having done three Paralympic Games, being on the executive committee going way back, to be part of that Commonwealth Games team next year and go overseas, to hang up the boots at a Games I haven’t done before, it would be pretty spectacular.
“I admit it’s going to be hard to retire, most definitely, I will still continue on in sport, somehow, somewhere and obviously the chance to relax from having to think about what I’m eating, the training and sleeping.
“But like I said I’d never seen the Australian flag and never lost that desire to represent Australia…..”
Gosens will be putting his name forward with others, to be in the mix in the PTVI classification for Australia’s Paratriathlon Team, with the selection period to finish next March and the Games in Birmingham beginning on July 28.
Asked how his form was, going into Noosa and for future Commonwealth Games selection races Gosens was quick to respond.
“I’m actually running better than ever due to my uphill cycling training and I’m in the pool at Yeronga Park five mornings a week…..at 4am,” Gosens said.
And when Birmingham comes Gerrard Gosens will be (just) 52 years of age. There’s no stopping him…. yet.”
With thanks Triathlon Australia.