New Year's Honours: New Zealand's Ironman Cameron Brown hopes to have inspired next generation

Cameron Brown celebrates winning his 12th Ironman New Zealand title in March.
MARK TAYLOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Cameron Brown celebrates winning his 12th Ironman New Zealand title in March.

No one earns a place on the New Year's Honours list without years of hard work and dedication in a particular field.

From a sporting perspective, though, it is hard to imagine a person putting their body through the wringer more than Cameron Brown.

For 30 years Brown has been involved in triathlon, but it is in the gruelling world of long-distance Ironman events where he has excelled.

Since winning it for the first time in 2001, the 44-year-old Aucklander has become synonymous with Ironman New Zealand.

READ MORE:
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The ultimate test of endurance combining a 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42km, an Ironman is one of the toughest sports on the planet and Brown has won the New Zealand event an incredible 12 times - a record for the most number of victories at a single race - not to mention two runner-up finishes at the world championships in Kona, Hawaii.

As he reflected on being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to triathlon, Brown's thoughts turned to those who inspired him to take up the sport - something he has always tried to aspire to.

"My hero was Rick Wells, who was the 1987 world champion," Brown said. 

"Erin Baker as well, she won Hawaii twice so those athletes inspired me when I was a junior. 

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"You hope you can inspire the next generation of triathletes to get out there and achieve because when you do have someone achieving in your own country, winning world championships and winning events around the world it does help your sport grow."

Despite being at the tailend of his career, Brown has shown no signs of slowing down.

In winning this year's Ironman NZ in March, he smashed the Taupo course record with a time of 8:07:58 - more than seven and a half minutes faster than the previous mark set by Bevan Docherty in 2013.

He also broke his own record for being the oldest person to win an Ironman event anywhere in the world.

But recovering from pushing his body to its absolute limits is getting more and more difficult, and Brown admits he can see the finish line on his time competing at the elite level.

"I went the quickest I've ever gone at Ironman New Zealand this year so you hope you can go a couple more years," he added. 

"But I know the inevitable is coming, that you are going to slow down at some point and recovery is a massive factor as you get older and trying to stay injury free."

While he may be winding down, we could still be seeing the Brown name in triathlon for years to come.

Brown's 13-year-old son is embarking on his first full season in the sport and has been keeping his dad on his toes at training.

He couldn't ask for a better coach.

"He's done a few (triathlons) in the past but he's getting more serious," Brown said. 

"We're actually training together now and he's getting on the bike and coming swimming with my training squad which is quite neat to see. Through the holidays he'll be doing his first race with me in it so looking forward to that and just seeing his progression in the sport as well."

 - Stuff

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