FRESH off his most successful season to date, Nowra-born triathlete Jonathan Goerlach is ramping up preparations for the biggest 18 months of his sporting career.
Since tasting glory in Edmonton and producing a strong performance at the Gold Coast’s World Championships in September, the 36-year-old has been resting his body ahead of his massive 2019 campaign.
“I’m feeling refreshed and confident,” Goerlach said.
“I haven’t raced since the Gold Coast World Championships in September, which has given me an opportunity to spend time with friends and family along with training hard under my coach Brendan Sexton.
“We’ve been working hard on my swim which has made some big improvements already.
“In past years, I haven’t felt ready at the start of the season but now I’m ready to race and keen to see what all my recent training can produce in Canberra’s non para-triathlon race on February 9.”
This weekend’s Canberra race will act as a perfect warm-up for his first para-triathlon event in Newcastle on February 24, the Oceania Championships.
"All the races from the past 12 months and the upcoming six months are important as they determine your ranking leading into the 12-month Tokyo qualification period starting June 28,” he said.
“I need to ensure that I maintain my current top six ranking in order to gain automatic entry into the key races during that qualification period.”
Following Newcastle, Goerlach will compete at Devonport (World Cup on March 3), Milan (World Paratriathlon Series on April 27), Yokohama (World Paratriathlon Series on May 18), Montreal ( World Paratriathlon Series on June 28), Toyko (August 18) and Lausanne (World Championships on September 1).
“Within the 12-month qualification period, each athlete’s top three races, in terms of ranking points, are combined for a total score,” Goerlach said.
“The athletes that are ranked in the top eight of their category at the end of the 12 months will qualify for a spot for their country.
“This should then mean the athlete is selected once their national federation and National Paralympic Committee nominates them for a Tokyo race entry through the International Paralympic Committee.”
As such, the former Bomaderry High School student won’t know if he’s officially qualified for Tokyo until a number of weeks after June 28, 2020.
But if he were to, it would mean the world to him.
“It [making it to the Paralympics] would be an incredible life achievement that very few people can say they’ve reached,” he said.
“I’ve been pursuing this goal since 2011.
“I was shattered back in 2014 when it was announced my disability category did not gain a medal event in Rio de Janeiro [Paralympics].
“But I regained my focus and drive towards this goal even though there was no guarantee that I would have a medal event in Tokyo – it’s both a relief and unique opportunity simply to be on this pathway.
“If I do qualify it will be a result of many years of hard work, sacrifices, support from those in my network and the courage to do whatever it takes to get to the start line of a Paralympic Games – whatever happens after that is a bonus.”
With this ‘dream’ now within sight, Goerlach and his guide Sam Douglas have spent long hours training, especially in the pool, to not let this chance slip through their grasps.
“Sam and I are going really well – he travels to Wollongong each Friday for us to train together,” Goerlach said.
“Sam is as committed to this goal as I am, which is important as it means we are both on the same page with what needs to be done to get to Tokyo and win the gold medal.
“In particular, the swim and bike are the key areas.
“Each bike course is different which means different skills are required in handling the tandem which requires regular practice.
“Swimming requires a lot of practice too as we continually refine our non-verbal/hand signal communication skills and body positioning in all kinds of water conditions.
“Outside of the seriousness of triathlon, we get along really well – we frequent the local cafes and attend live music when we can too.”
If you’d like to support Goerlach and Douglas on their journey to Tokyo, please contact Goerlach at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his athlete page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanGoerlachAthlete/
“Although Sam and I receive some support to race around the world, we both work – Sam as a triathlon coach and myself as planner at the national disability insurance agency – in order to pay the bills and cover other triathlon expenses,” Goerlach said.
“In a perfect world, we’d both stop working for the next 18 months to focus 100 per cent on Tokyo however, sponsorship for para athletes is still a rarity and very hard to come by.
“So anyone that would like to jump on and support our journey, would be greatly appreciated.”
Related content: Wide Ward of Sports: Jonathan Goerlach (Triathlon)