Tuesday, March 25, 2008
CURTAIN COMES DOWN ON STELLAR CAREER
After 17 years on the world triathlon stage, one of Australia’s greatest has brought his career to an end.
Craig Walton, a proud Tasmanian but who now resides on the Gold Coast, admits the decision was tough to make at first, but he now has no regrets about calling it a day.
Walton said “I have had a long career and certainly my fair share of highs and lows, but as a lot of retired Sports people say, you instinctly know when it is time to retire and while I still enjoy training and staying fit and active, I have simply lost the desire to race’.
He added “our sport is unforgiving and if you let your guard down slightly you will not succeed. I have always raced to win, and anything less, I am not happy with, and considering I am not 100 percent committed it is best that I walk away and focus on a new chapter of my life”.
Walton is regarded as one if not the best non drafting triathlete to ever the grace the world stage, thanks largely to his dynamic swimming and bike leg combinations, which allowed him to break the back of triathlon’s biggest names. Walton began his elite career back in 1993 and until his medically enforced layoff due to chronic fatigue and then glandular fever three years ago, he was firmly entrenched at the front of the field in any race he entered.
The Aussie star won 6 world cups, many National titles in both the sprint, Olympics distance and long course formats, and made the Noosa Triathlon his own, winning it a staggering six times, and he still holds the world record time.
But his highest honour was undoubtedly representing Australia at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. “to lead that race in Sydney for as long as I did, to have the thousands of fans cheering you on, is something I will never forget, there is no greater honour than flying the flag for Australia, it was a proud moment for me for sure”.
Walton also keen to acknowledge the support of his sponsors, both past and present and the media. “my heartfelt thanks goes out to all my sponsors, they made it possible for me to have the career I’ve had, and my sincere thanks goes out to them and to the media for their support.”.
Despite retiring, the lanky Tasmanian will have plenty to keep him busy.
His main priority will be to continue coaching his partner and Australia’s greatest female triathlete Emma Snowsill, as she prepares for the Beijing Olympics. “Emma has a great chance in Beijing to medal and I want to help her have the best preparation possible to achieve her dreams and goals, and now that I don’t have the added pressure on me of trying to focus on my racing as well, I can turn my attention to Emma’s preparation full time”.