Q&A with Courtney Atkinson

Q&A with Courtney Atkinson

By Brian Mahony on 01/05/11 at 9:40 pm

We asked you via our Facebook page to submit your questions to Australian superstar Courtney Atkinson and he’s generously taken time out of his busy training schedule to answer a selection of them. Each week we’ll have another top ITU star ready to answer your questions, so remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to submit your questions.

Q: Anthony Parrington via Facebook: As a volunteer course marshall on Macquarie Street for the Sydney race we got fairly close to the action, but I was interested in learning more about Courtney’s bike cam, and whether he is intending to continue this coverage throughout the season?

Courtney Atkinson (CA): Firstly thank you for volunteering. We need people like yourself to make our sport what it is. A simple thing like videoing a few guys on bikes stuck a big cord with people wanting to see more. I was completely taken by surprise when I put the first one on youtube. I thought maybe a few hundred triathletes might like to watch. Didn’t I under estimate that one! I enjoy doing it and it gives me something to muck around with when travelling to and from races on laptop. I suppose you could say it is my current hobby!  I will continue to do this at the races, but the challenge now is to get better action again and again which is difficult after having crashes happen right before me in Sydney.

2010 Ranking: 10th
2010 Record:
Seoul: 2nd
Madrid: 2nd
Hamburg: DNF
London : 50th
Kitzbühel: 18th
Budapest : 28th

Robynne Shannon via Facebook: What’s been the funnest (It’s a word!!!) / most memorable moment / experience in your career?

CA: First thing that jumps to mind is starting a race in France early in my career at the dead end of a channel that joined a river with a large dead cow next to the start line…but walking into the food hall at Olympic Games and seeing the 24 hour McDonalds probably is up there with the best.

James Kimo Myers via Facebook: What has been the highlight of your long career and how much longer do you think it’ll last?

CA: When you ask about a highlight most will think about results, but I straight away think of the times that made me secretly very happy and proud. Couple of more recent times this has happened:
- 2007 I stayed at home in Australia all winter while everyone else was off racing in Europe 2007 pre Beijing Olympics to concentrate purely on making our Olympic team by only racing the Test Event in Beijing. I had put all my eggs in one basket but pulled it off with a second place and made Australian Olympic team. Very proud day.
- The second day in 2009 seems less insignificant but probably more important for me was placing a 7th in London WCS two years ago. When I could do nothing right, find no form at the time I took a big gamble and made some significant changes to my training. That 7th was the single race that sent me on my way to know that I could use my strong running to do well against the WCS fields we see today.
Finally I think the time to stop racing is either I am unable to continue to improve my levels, evolving at the speed of ITU racing today or my body doesn’t allow me to improve anymore.

Danny Roe via Facebook: What’s been the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

CA: Thankfully I have never had any major obstacles in my time just the never ending small ones we face day to day, week to week that I work through. I have been very fortunate to be able to evolve with the sport to compete at the top level every year since I was a teenager.

Laura Wise via Facebook: I’m having a pretty demotivating time at the moment with my training - how do you stay motivated when you don’t hit training or race targets?

CA: This is always very hard times and very individual to how to overcome. Sometimes just taking a little time off to refresh the batteries can make all the difference.

James Nutt via Facebook: How many cans of red bull do you drink a year ? and where are your wings ?

CA: My wings are still growing at the moment, but as to how much I drink…..this is a picture of the floor of my garage at the moment….(and I leave for Europe very soon, lots of drinking ahead!)

Matt Palmer via Facebook: What are the key sessions that help you to run 30minutes off the bike?

CA: Here is some food for thought. Running 30 minutes of the bike doesn’t just come with the ability to run fast. You have to be able to get to the run fresh enough from the swim and bike to then still be able to run to your best ability. Our sport of triathlon is exactly that. At the level ITU racing is now you cannot afford any weakness.
In saying that brick sessions that are specific to the paces we need to race at I think are key to running fast. You have to be able to run straight off the bike with great speed.

Q: Aaron Thomas via Facebook: As a growing sport triathlon has changed dramatically from what it was 10 years ago and so forth, if there could be one thing you could change now at this moment that will impact the future of ITU triathlon, what would it be?

CA: Personally I would like to see an evolution in the design of Triathlon at the top ITU level to make it even more appealing to spectators. I have always believed that triathlon should reward the best all round swim - bike - runner in equal proportion.
My personal vision would be:
- Olympic event with heats and finals.
- Where you take the field of 50. Split into two heats of 25 on the first day of competition and take only the top 10 from each heat to a final limited to the best 20. - A final at the Olympic Games of swim - bike - run - swim - bike - run continuous where each leg is of approx equivalent time portion to make a race between 60-90mins (eg. 750m - 8km - 3km - 750m - 8km - 3km)
- the best person with the ability to swim bike and run the best with greatest endurance and speed would win.
To be honest I would think the guys who would win this type of format are the ones winning ITU WCS races now anyhow, but the racing would be on more compact courses, pace would be flat out all the time and the changes in lead would offer crowds 60 mins of pure action.
Remember this is just an off the cuff personal idea. I love the fact that ITU are proactive and motivated to see the Teams race reach the Olympic level. This race also offers heaps of fast excitement.

Boris Velazquez via Twitter:
Ask Courtney to describe the night before an event. Does he still gets insomnia? How does he manages race day anxiety? Cheers!

CA: After over a decade racing at this level I have learnt to be able to sleep very well. A truck couldn’t wake me sometimes!  I think I have managed to keep my nerves to the day of races and not night before. It takes something very big these days to keep me sleeping before an event…..maybe only the Olympic Games…..but even then I can still get some good rest.

Courtney Atkinson (AUS)

Date of Birth: 15 August 1979 Height: 5’9” (176 cm)
Place of Birth: Mackay, Australia Weight: 148 lbs (67 kg)

2nd: Dextro Energy Triathlon Madrid 2009
5th: Dextro Energy Triathlon Gold Coast Grand Final 2009
11th: 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
1st: 1999 ITU Triathlon Junior World Championships
7 ITU Triathlon World Cup wins (tied for 6th all-time)
4 Australian National Championships

Likes surfing, snowboarding, playstation. Four-time Australian
champion. Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Marketing
6 of his 7 World Cup wins have been in Japan. Married with one daughter.

Click here for a full profile and results.