Originally written by PHIL HOLMES
FORMER Casterton athlete Emily Rooke has taken the world by storm, finishing second in the World Sprint Triathlon Championships on the Gold Coast last month.
After qualifying with a top three finish at the National Championships in October last year, Rooke achieved what she had first hoped to do, represent Australia.
Standing on the podium with a silver medal around her neck was the icing on the cake.
“Initially, my aim and purpose behind the event was to represent Australia. It has been a dream that I have had since I was in Primary School,” she said.
“I didn’t win the national title, so to come away as the second best in the world is really pleasing. Finishing on the podium was a huge bonus to what was already an amazing experience.”
From humble beginnings, the 25-year-old was always destined to do well in the athletics field, but took a liking to triathlons once at secondary school.
“I started off in athletics at a young age doing cross country running and swimming where I competed at a State and National level until the end of year 12 at the Hamilton and Alexandra College,” Rooke said.
“I started to focus more on triathlons during the start of high school. I loved the variety of training, the people involved and the lifestyle that comes with the sport.
“I have been training and competing predominantly in triathlons since 2000, when I gained a scholarship at the Victorian Institute of Sport.
The event had 43 competitors and included a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a five-kilometre run.
At the end of the swimming leg Rooke left the water in third place before embarking on the gruelling bike leg in the Queensland sun.
She was on top and leading going into the run, but was overtaken at the halfway mark, eventually having to settle for second.
Running has always been her favourite part of a triathlon, but said it had gone backwards since taking to the three-pronged races.
“I have always enjoyed running the most and still do, but it is interesting that since training for three disciplines, my running has gone backwards,” she said.
“I was overtaken by a Brazilian competitor, who went on to win the race by 46 seconds. I finished in second place after increasing the gap between myself and third place, which went to Great Britain.”
Rooke’s diet and lifestyle has been strict throughout her triathlon days and having achieved a lot of success, she believes it’s time to move onto the next phase of her life
“I trained and raced as a professional tri-athlete for five years, whilst I was on scholarship at the VIS. During this time I was doing up to 16 sessions per week,” she said.
“My regime was basically a cycle of training, eating and sleeping. In the past couple of years it was much more balanced.
“I’m working full time as a teacher now and have been training approximately 11 sessions per week, spending a lot more time with family, friends and my fiancé.
“My diet has mainly consisted of a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and dairy products to provide enough energy to get through sessions.
“After many years of training, racing and sacrifices I finally feel like all my training has paid off and I have achieved my dream. I’m feeling satisfied with my result and at the moment would like to put more focus into other areas of my life.”
Close to her mum, dad and three siblings (one of which is Geelong premiership player Max), Rooke said it would be great to get home on a more regular basis.
“I’m living in Mount Waverley (Melbourne) now with my fiancé and we usually get home two or three times a year,” Rooke said.
“In five years time I see myself happily married and we will definitely visit the Western District more, as we both love getting back to the country.”