Sophie Hawkins win in the Canberra Triathlon last month led to a momentous decision in the 25-year-old CDU gym coordinator’s life.
Instead of helping tone the muscles of CDU staff and students, Sophie has decided to quit her fulltime job so that she can concentrate on training for the world triathlon championships in Hamburg, Germany in September.
Sophie’s most recent win, in which she beat all-comers – both professional and amateurs in the Open section – means she now earns automatic selection in the team to contest the world championships.
Already in the past six months she has, in her own terms “podiumed” at several of the major triathlon events that are held during the season between October and March.
Her success in Canberra on January 28 was even more meritorious because she is classified as an amateur and was able to beat home several professional athletes in the grueling event that comprised a 1.5km swim across Lake Burley Griffin, a 40km bike ride through the suburbs and a 10km run to the finish line.
Winning the event confirmed her desire to devote herself to the sport by training as often as possible – at the expense of her job at CDU.
“But I still can’t call myself a professional,” she says. “To do that means you have to compete in all the national and international events, and I just can’t afford to because I don’t have a sponsor.”
Now she is hoping for a Territory sponsor whose logo she can carry to victory in Hamburg. But being in the team means Sophie will still have to find the $9000 needed to compete in the world championships.”
“If only I could find a sponsor for the championships that would be great,” says the cheerfully optimistic athlete as she completes her final week at the CDU sports and fitness centre.
She says she has knocked on many doors in the search for a sponsor – but so far no luck.
“I did have a small sponsorship from All Financial last year, for which I was most grateful, but that ran out,” she says.
Sophie is now preparing for the next triathlon in the Australian series, which will be held in Hobart in mid-February. She will then compete two weeks later in the triathlon in Geelong.
Born and raised in the tiny Victorian town of Leitchville, where her father still raises dairy cows, Sophie came to Darwin as a physical training instructor in the Australian army.
While in the army she completed her VTE certificates in fitness and sports development at CDU.
“I intend to stay in Darwin because I love the place and it’s a great place to train all-year round,” she says.
One of the drawbacks, however, is the lack of professional trainers who can monitor her progress. “I tried a training program by correspondence but that didn’t work, so I’m training myself,” she says.