By Peter Holmes on 20/11/09 at 7:00 pm
James Seear started the 2009 year as a little known Australian under 23, but finished it as a world championship silver medallist and u23 rankings winner. As one of the bright young hopes for Triathlon Australia, Seear looks to step into the shoes of Courtney Atkinson and Brad Kahlefeldt with his eyes firmly set on competing at the 2010 London Olympic Games.
James talks us through his year of how he rose through the ranks to become one of the best in the world in the space of six months:
At the beginning of the year my coach, Shaun Stephens, and I set some goals that I thought would make me work very hard but were realistic and achievable. My first big race was the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup and I placed tenth which I viewed as a great result. To be in a breakaway with Courtney Atkinson and Josh Amberger was just an awesome experience that I will always remember. Following Mooloolaba, I found out about the ITU under 23 World Rankings and I immediately eyed doing as well as I could in that series.
After Mooloolaba, I also made the move overseas for my first big year racing internationally. I lived in Germany for just under two months, my training base for the European races. While in Germany I competed in the German Bundesliga Series which I saw as a great way to get race fitness. I had another great race in Madrid, Spain where I didn’t do much on the bike, which goes against my way of racing, but I was there to try and run with the front pack. I maintained contact with the front group for nearly the first lap but slowly dropped through the field However, I was still able to hold off most of the chase pack from behind before getting out-sprinted by Jan Frodeno and fellow countryman Brad Kahlefeldt.
With my strong performances earlier in the year and Madrid being a positive experience, I gained an invaluable sponsor and support in the form of IOOF/Pursuit. In or around this time I was also accepted into the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and accordingly, was presented with the opportunity to move to France to live and train with the AIS team. I saw this as a great honour, to live and train with the team some of the world’s best athletes in one place. This was another great opportunity to learn how Australia’s greatest triathletes come together and I was determined to gain as much experience as I could. While in France, I had a meeting with the High Performance Director and my coach, who is also the Australian Head Coach, and we discussed which race I would like to do at Gold Coast in September. They let me think about it for a few days and I decided to target a medal at the under 23 ITU Triathlon World Championships. After that decision was made all my preparation and training was focused on that goal. I had unbelievable support from the AIS and all the athletes and also from my training squad back in Australia when I returned home.
I went into the race on the Gold Coast in great form and I was confident that I had the fitness and form to get a great result and the race was on a course that I had competed on before. My day didn’t start out perfectly as my swim was not were it should have been but I didn’t let it bother me and I put my head down and made it to the front pack. When I made the front pack I had some unbelievable help from team mate and training partner Josh Amberger. He assisted me on the bike and he worked really hard to help the front pack gain as much time as possible. I also had so great support from my other countryman Josh Maeder in the chase pack.
I jumped off the bike a little further down than I would have liked but I felt good and I was ready to run. After the first lap I thought I was in trouble and I was struggling with the pace but I settled into the run and I started to feel stronger with every step. The front run pack was slowly getting smaller and smaller. I decided to put in some surges to test the legs of the other athletes. Coming into the last lap German athlete Franz Löschke attacked with about 2km to go. I went after him and started to pull him back a little, however, there just wasn’t enough time to close the gap and Franz deserved his win on the day. I had given it everything and I had come second at a home world championships. I could not believe it and it felt like a dream. It would of course have been great to finish on top of the podium in front of a home crowd but I see second place as a fantastic achievement and a certain step in the right direction for me. The result also helped to secure my position at the top of the ITU under 23 World Rankings.
I had an amazing year and decided it was time for a break. When I sat down at the beginning of the year to set my goals, I promised myself a special reward if I managed to achieve those goals. So in my break I travelled 1500km to the State of Victoria to buy a 44 year old Alfa Romeo and drove it back to my home in Brisbane with my Dad - a perfect end to a perfect year.
I would like to say thank you to my coach Shaun Stephens for helping and guiding me over many years, and also my family for their endless support and encouragement. My training squad for their support and for pushing me at training every day of the week and finally but not least the Australian Institute of Sport and IOOF/Pursuit for helping me though the year.