You Got Duked
Whether you are new to the sport or a perennial contender for Age Group awards, there is no doubt that you have thought about what it would be like if you were a Pro triathlete. Surely, you have imagined yourself onstage for the pre-race Meet The Pros gathering, heard the athlete call-up where they announce your name on the beach minutes before the start of the race, dreamt about running down the finish line chute of an Ironman event hot on the heels of your race idols and with a shot at a podium spot.
That’s quite normal for serious athletes, so no shame in that, but turning that dream into a reality takes a special kind of commitment, courage, and confidence. It isn’t something that everyone can do, or is ready to sacrifice everything for.
Dimity-Lee Duke took that step in 2015, and she went all-in, by basing herself in Thailand (which was a long way from western Australia). She committed to a race calendar of key events that spanned the globe from the Philippines to Switzerland, then set her sights on earning a spot for the big Ironman event at Kona.
Fast forward to March 2016—exactly one year since we met Dimity at Subic Bay for the inaugural Century Tuna 70.3—and it was no surprise that she met all her previous goals and passed all her tests with flying colors! She’s now virtually a local of Phuket, has a achieved an impressive string of results and accomplished a top-20 result for her division at Kona—all that in her first full year as a Pro.
If that narrative sounds like the stuff dreams are made of, the affable Aussie is quick to point out that there is more to just deciding to turn Pro than actually going out and doing it. She takes up our conversation with an insight into what her life was like before she decided to give it a try, what her strategy was at the 2016 Century Tuna 70.3, and what advice she can share to other girls who think that triathlon is also the sport for them.
DLD: It was a huge call for me to give up a full-time job to pursue my dream as a full-time athlete. I had been working the last 7 years as an Industrial Paramedic working on remote mine-sites in northwestern Australia. I really enjoyed my job and am still very passionate about working in the medical profession, but there was only so far I could go as a triathlete, as the job entailed working 12-hour day or night shifts with an on-call component for up to two weeks straight. For me, I was getting reasonable results in triathlon, but knew if I had a go at it full-time I would see what I was truly capable of.
I have always wanted to be a professional athlete but never knew it would be triathlon. My parents always encouraged me to have a good academic career, so that was a focus. Honestly, looking back I think that this was a wise move to establish my academic career, as it is something I can always fall back to. Being a professional athlete can have a short life span and so for me, knowing I have my profession outside of sport, takes the pressure off somewhat.
During my early years, I played state and national basketball up until the age of 23 and thought this would be my career path until a serious knee injury at the age of 16 put a huge curveball on my goal of playing for Australia or heading to US college basketball. I also raced off-road motorcycles from the age of 21 and up until three years ago at a professional level, winning state titles and finishing top 5 in national competition. During motorbike racing, I took up triathlon purely to keep fit in the summer months (off-road motorbike racing is a winter sport in Australia due to the hot climate in summer). It was then I found the passion for triathlon and with some great results as an age grouper, I decided to give it a try!
CK: What was your strategy in the swim, bike, and run portions of the Century Tuna 70.3? How did you make up the deficit from the swim?
DLD: Swimming is my weakest leg, so I always knew I was going to be down off the leaders heading into the bike. I just tried to focus on keeping with them as long as I could, then focused on my swim form and technique for the rest. In doing so, I was able to produce my fastest swim time ever over the 1.9 kilometer distance.
CK: Was it an advantage that you had already raced the SCTEX bike course last year?
DLD: Knowing the bike course definitely had its advantage. When you know the course beforehand, you know when you need to ride conservatively and when you should push hard.
CK: Was the heat during the run a big factor for you?
DLD: As I am currently based in Phuket, Thailand, I did not find the heat too bad on the run. I did make a mistake though, missing the last two aid stations on the bike for water, which hampered my overall run performance, but that was my own silly mistake. As far as the run is concerned, the Sunrise team makes sure that the aid stations are well equipped with water to help cool the core body temperature down.
CK: What important nugget of knowledge can you pass-on to the girls who want to step-up in their triathlon pursuits?
DLD: In general, I am a firm believer that you need to work hard and follow your dreams. If triathlon is the sport you wish to pursue and you feel you have what it takes to be the best person you can be, well then go for it! Anything is possible and life is way too short to not chase a dream!