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Posted: April 8 2005

Triathlon: Twenty Questions with Emma Snowsill the Current Australian National Champion

This month we profile: Emma Snowsill, the current Australian National Olympic Distance Triathlon Champion, Oceania Champion, ITU World Cup Champion, and dual ITU World Champion Triathlete.

Full Name: Emma Snowsill.
Sport: Triathlon
Born (City):Gold Coast Queensland, Australia.
Current Hometown: Gold Coast Australia AND Bend Oregon United States.
Coach: Craig Walton.
Club: Surfers Paradise Triathlon Club.
Occupation: Professional Triathlete.
Education: 2nd year Bachelor of Health Science. (Currently deferred)
Sponsor(s): ORCA racesuits, FELT bicycles, ZIPP Race wheels, 
VITTORIA tires, SIDI cycle shoes, PROFILE design, OAKLEY eyewear,     
Personal Web Site:
Favourite Web Site(s): 

ES: and

First of all, congratulations on winning the Australian National Championships in March.

1. Runner's Web (RW): When and where did you start competing and in what sports?

Emma Snowsill (ES): I grew up as a pool and surf swimmer, and at about age 16 competed in Cross Country and Track at school. I entered my first triathlon in a team event doing the swim leg only, then Sprint and Olympic distance Triathlons evolved from there.

2. RW: At what age do you consider you became a "serious" athlete and in what sport?

ES: I won the 2000 ITU World Championship in the 16 to 20yrs age category plus the Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Youth Olympic Festival at age 19. I was granted a Triathlete Scholarship with the ‘Australian Institute of Sport’ which caused me to become more knowledgeable and focused. I don’t really consider myself as a “serious” athlete as such, I just haven’t achieved my highest goals in Triathlon yet.

3. RW: You are a full-time athlete. Do you believe it is possible for someone who is not a full-time triathlete to accomplish what you have done - win an Australian and ITU championships?

ES: No, not at an Elite level. I think an age group triathlete could do it but I definitely do not have time for another job. Training for all three sports is very time consuming, especially when you’re trying to be the best you can at each.

4. RW: Who has had the greatest influence on your athletic career to date?.

ES: My previous coach Brett Sutton who taught me a lot about the sport of Triathlon, but most of all about my athletic potential.

5. RW: Could you discuss your training in terms of an average week's workouts prior to racing season? Also could you review, at a high level, your macro program for a year? Do you do most of your training alone or as part of a group?

ES: An average week is 2 or 3 sessions each day, seven days a week, eleven months of the year. This comprises of 30km swim, 250km bike, 100km run, however it varies in intensity throughout the year depending of my racing schedule. I usually train with my coach Craig Walton and elite triathlete Liz Blatchford for bike / run and swim with Olympic coach Dennis Cottrell at Miami Pool.

6. RW: What are your short-term (rest of the year) and longer-term goals?

ES: My goals for the rest of this year are to defend my existing USA Triathlon titles, qualify for the 2006 Commonwealth Games and win another ITU World Championship in Japan. My longer-term goals are to win a Commonwealth Games Medal and compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and to pursue Ironman Hawaii.

7. RW: What do you consider your best race to-date and why?

ES: When I won my first of two NOOSA international Triathlons. I really felt I’d won a REAL Triathlon because it was non-drafting, rather than having bike riders in groups in a draft legal triathlon.

8. RW: What do you consider your strongest attribute of the three triathlon disciplines?

ES: I don’t feel like I have one in particular because I try to keep all three as strong as possible. If one seems weaker, I work on it.

9. RW: Do you have any interest in coaching or other involvement in sport after you stop competing?

ES: I would love to do something involved with the sport when I stop competing, whether it be in coaching, commentating, or media work.

10. RW: Have you been tested in a lab for max VO2, body fat, etc? If so what were the results? If not, do you plan on getting tested?

ES: I have been tested for max VO2 at the Australian Institute of Sport some years ago but I don’t recall the results. I do remember there were other girls whose results were much better than mine. I don’t think these tests are necessarily an exact measure of how good an athlete you are because based on my tests I would not be winning any races. I do believe in training hard, and how much you like pain.

11. RW: What is your favourite triathlon and why?

ES: The NOOSA international Triathlon in Australia is my favorite because it’s huge, with an awesome festival atmosphere, best organized, best attended, best location, best climate, best circuit, best surf, best restaurants, and not too far from home.

12. RW: What do you consider your greatest achievement in the sport?

ES: Winning the Elite Women’s World Championship as it was so unexpected.

13. RW: Who do you consider your greatest competition?

ES: Absolutely everybody in a race...I never discount anyone.

14. RW: Why do you think Australia has been able to produce so many world-class triathletes, particularly women?

ES: The climate, especially in Queensland, is ideal for training all year round and the world class facilities, either man-made or natural are in abundance. Australian women can cope with a lot more hard training than men which makes them suited to triathlon.

15. RW: Apart from swimming, cycling and running, do you do any other training, such as weight-training, yoga, etc.?

ES: Yes, I do Swiss Ball and Pilates for core strength training.

16. RW: Apart from the triathlon what is your favorite "other" sport?

ES: I love surfing plus playing basketball and tennis as I grew up playing both.

17. RW: What activities do you do away from sport to relax?

ES: I live near the greatest surf beach and love to ride my Mini-Mal. Otherwise I like to go Jet-skiing and wake-boarding and most things that involve the water.

18. RW: What is your racing schedule for the next year?

ES: I plan on racing some international Olympic distance World Cups, several non-drafting USA races, some long distance events, World Championships in September and Commonwealth Games qualifier.

19. RW: Could you take us through your National Championship race in Geelong yesterday, discussing your strategy, how you felt during each of the disciplines, etc.

ES: My strategy is to always go out hard and do the very best that I can. I felt reasonably good leading the swim, despite it being a pontoon dive start into cold ocean harbor temperatures and wetsuits being required. The wind-chill factor was high on the bike and I had a dreadful transition going into the run, my hands and feet were so cold and I lost about 25secs. Likewise in the run I just couldn’t get my heart-rate up & my legs felt like lead, like they wanted to stop and seize up, but I wanted the National Title. I got a flu that night after the race which was understandable.

20. RW: How long do you intend to compete at the top level of the sport?

ES: I want to continue for as long as I enjoy the sport, and my body will let me. I still have ‘Ironman’ to pursue and I believe female endurance only gets better as you get older.

RW: Thanks for doing this, Emma. Continued success in your competitive endeavours. We'll be following your career.

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