THE 2019 theme ‘Big Husky just got bigger’ is living true to its word, with the unveiling on Monday night of the number one bib.
At the Huskisson Pub, close to 50 of Matt Lewis’ friends, family and training partners watched on as he was surprised by the team from Elite Energy, the organisers of the Husky Triathlon Festival, while going live to a large online viewership.
Lewis, from Erowal Bay, now joins the ranks of some of the world’s biggest triathlon identities, including five time world champion Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander and three time world champion Pete Jacobsm who have worn the number one bib in previous years at the Huskisson Triathlon Festival.
In 2018, Lewis set his sights on a professional career in triathlon after earning his professional license.
Lewis, who has raced on the South Coast as an age group athlete for the past 12 years, had his first professional race in Shepparton, placing sixth in a stacked professional field and proving that he has the mettle to mix it with some of the world’s best.
“We were thrilled at the end of last year to see that Matt had earned his professional license,” Elite Energy’s Seb Gallery said.
“He certainly has paid his dues and proven that he has got what it takes to be one of the world’s best in years to come.
“It is just so exciting to have one of our local Shoalhaven athletes make it to this level – over the years we have seen him grow as an athlete and mature as a person.
“Matt is someone that is very supportive of the local community, growing the sport through assisting junior and beginner athletes while working full-time as a teacher at Vincentia High School.
“It’s this inclusive nature that he embodies that made it a no-brainer to extend this huge honour”.
While being interviewed live on Facebook, a visibly emotional Lewis said that he ‘feels very honoured to have the number one target on his back and will be giving his all on home turf’.
“I am just really excited to be racing in the company of these triathlon legends like Crowie and Pete Jacobs – it’s fantastic to have the support of the local community including locally based Elite Energy, who have supported me in my quest to fulfil my dreams as a professional athlete”.
The 2019 Shimano Big Husky Triathlon festival is the 14th year that the race has taken place.
With the main event hub at White Sands Park, Huskisson, the event annually attracts 5000 athletes and 10,000 spectators from across the world to participate in multiple ocean swims, fun runs, triathlons and kids events.
“It really is a great local event and that is one of the reasons we wanted to honour our local lad Matt [Lewis] – he really supports the local community and the local community supports him back”, CEO of Elite Energy Mark Emerton said.
“Over the last 14 years we [Elite Energy] have donated in excess of $400,000 to local volunteer groups who help in staging Husky, and due to their hard work and support, the event has become one of world’s most renown triathlon festivals”.
You can watch Lewis and some of the world’s best triathletes race the main event on Sunday starting with a 1.9km swim, followed by a 90km bike ride and finished off with a 21.1km run.
The best place to watch all the action is at White Sands Park, Huskisson.