Victorian native Peter Kerr seemed to come out of nowhere to win Noosa Triathlon this year. We shed some light on the boy from the south.
Past the infamous Bells Beach where Bodhi caught his last wave in one of the greatest films ever made, and past the “not so much” 12 Apostles, where busloads of tourists flock, you’ll come to a town called Warrnambool. It’s where television personality, radio host and comedian Dave Hughes once hailed from, and where the newly crowned winner of Noosa Triathlon – Peter Kerr – grew up.
Now 24 years old, Kerr used to love to kick around the old Aussie Rules footy, and was a gung-ho surf lifesaver turned swimmer and eventually triathlete. Before long he had hung up his footy boots, replacing them with super light race shoes. He threw out his striped footy socks and replaced them with compression socks. And he exchanged the surf-ski for a carbon, deadly treadly.
In 2010 the world of triathlon had no idea who this kid from Warrnambool was. He had been turning up to local Gatorade races in Melbourne for a few years, lining up against the likes of Craig McKenzie, Leon Griffin and Peter Robertson. Other than that, the greater triathlon world was – to him – an unknown. With guidance from others, he essentially coached himself to the third step on the podium at the Noosa Triathlon in 2010, behind Courtney Atkinson and Kris Gemmell – who you might say are fairly well known in the industry.
The rest seems like a whirlwind magical mystery tour. Jono Hall helped him out with cycling, perhaps his rawest of the three disciplines, pointed him in the right direction, and introduced him to training camps. Before he knew it, he was overseas in 2011 competing in Continental and World Cups, plus racing for French teams. He made the Australian Under 23 team, and the second relay team for the World Championships in Lausanne.From there, it was another step again.
“It had been a flash in the pan type of thing,” Kerr says of recent times in the world of ITU racing. He hadn’t come through the traditional ITU junior ranks.
“I’m a bit of a latecomer. I don’t have the experience that some of the younger guys do.
But I’m fresh. Ready to have a go. Sometimes though, I feel like I am a little on the back foot trying to learn as I go, right in there, amongst the elites,” he says.
But what better way to have a crack at this sport that he quite clearly has a talent for? A lot
of people think that at the age of 24 Kerr hasn’t performed yet, so has he left his run in the ITU scene too late?
“I haven’t developed quite yet. I’ve only just started. I’ve got so much more to offer and much more to show in the coming years,” he says.
After being third at Noosa in 2010, he had a taste of what victory would be like at this race. This year the field was super impressive with a combination of long course and short course athletes. The drafters vs. the non-drafters. The sprinters vs. the diesel engines. It was a great field, and for Kerr to take those two steps up from where he was in 2010 was a huge accomplishment.
“I guess because I’m not a big name like a lot of the others, a few people were joking and saying it was fluke. At least, I hope they were joking,” he says.
“I’d love to come back and win the title again. Anyone would love to get the title twice, but it’s hard after the overseas season.”
It was interesting finding out when Kerr knew he had the title in Noosa. He talked about the crowd, and how that at the last bridge towards the finish line the crowd’s chants changed from “C’mon Fisher”, who was hot on Kerr’s heels for a lot of the race, to “C’mon Pete! You’ve got this! Great work Pete!”
Prior to Noosa he enlisted the help of Jayson Lamb in Warrnambool as a swim coach, Andy Graham for work on his cycling and Matthew McDonough (once the Australian Duathlon champion) for running, and is looking forward to seeing what works best for him in the future.
Kerr truly believes that the key to his future success is balance, and it has worked for him to date.
“If I’m happy in all aspects of my life, then I’m happy in training and BANG I get results,” he says.
He talks about how all athletes train hard, and getting the results on the board isn’t just about training harder.
“If your mind is elsewhere in training and racing, that affects results. If you’re worried about loved ones, worried about your next pay cheque etc, it’s hard to get results. I really like to step back and take it all in. I’m on the other side of the world a lot. I’m eating different food, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people. I want to enjoy this process. I need to enjoy it. When all this comes together, I can race well,” he says.
“When it comes down to it, whether you win in Noosa or anywhere in the world and they give you a large bottle of champagne, it’s no fun pouring it on yourself, or even drinking it
by yourself. Experiencing those moments with friends and family is what you remember.
“The result is what you get, but the experience is what counts,” he says.
So what does this 24 year old from Warrnambool want to do with his career? Well, like most kids he wants to go to the Olympics. Rio in 2016 is most definitely on his radar. Last year, although he hadn’t considered being part of the Olympic team (and nor did selectors), he was in the top 10 Australian group, and anything can happen in the next four years. He intends to show himself as a real contender in 2013/14 on the Olympic distance circuit. But for now, it’s a bit of rest here in Australia, and things will ramp up again in February, kicking off with Geelong Multisport Festival. Then it’s back overseas for racing and training in Europe.
If he’s not on the ITU circuit, then look out for Kerr at your local races – he’s a big supporter of local events. Either way, keep an eye on him in the coming years.