By Brad Culp on 10/08/10 at 7:59 pm
She has only done a handful of triathlons, but you might well have heard of her already. Marayke Jonkers has been to three Olympic Games, winning two bronze and a silver medal in the pool as one of Australia’s leading Paralympians. For now, though, her swimming has taken a back seat, with the 28-year-old concentrating her energies on competing in the 2010 ITU Triathlon World Championships in Budapest.
“I’d always thought triathlon was an awesome sport because I knew how hard I trained to be competitive in one sport, so it would blow me away to think that people could be so good at three sports,” Jonkers said. “I’d been doing some hand cycling for cross training, so I thought that given I had two of the three disciplines under control – swimming and cycling – that I might as well make the leap to triathlon.
So, the Sunshine Coast resident competed in her first triathlon as part of last year’s world championships festival on the Gold Coast and – apart from a “pathetic” run leg having never sat in a racing wheelchair until the night before the race – was instantly hooked.
“I love the feeling you get when you cross the finish line of a triathlon because it’s a real sense of achievement having slogged away at three sports for a couple of hours,” she said. Coming from a sprint swimming background for the last 12 years, I’d be looking to shave a millisecond off my time, so triathlon is very exciting for me because I’ve got so much to learn and hopefully I can make some big improvements.”
Jonkers, who has been a paraplegic since she was involved in a car accident at eight months of age, said the goal in Budapest was essentially personal.
“At the moment, I’m simply looking to do a personal best time,” she said. “There is not a lot of competition when it comes to being a paratriathlete in Australia, so it’s more a matter of racing against yourself. And I learnt in swimming that if you concentrate on improving yourself and chipping away at your PB, eventually the medals and world records come along as a by-product.”