Ever heard of the one arm paper hanger? Well, how about the triathlete who will this weekend look to overcome a serious shoulder injury and line up in the Craigs Investment Partners Tinman Triathlon at Mount Maunganui?
Queenstown based Geoff Matthews is no stranger to racing, last summer he clocked up 17 events around New Zealand, most of them standard distance or less, a far cry from the days when Mathews was amongst the long distance elite some 15 years or so ago.
All was going to plan for another busy season until Matthews parted company with his bike in training back in October, an accident that left his shoulder wrecked and his hopes of another busy summer in tatters.
“I was training hard for this season and I broke my rule of never riding in the rain – I did enough of this in my younger days! I was riding in Auckland and a light shower came down while I was doing some hill reps, on the way down I lost the back wheel and went down. It was a slow speed crash but in throwing my arm out I damaged my shoulder.”
That damage was a dislocation and after some initial treatment, Matthews took it easy for a few weeks but when he saw little improvement, a visit to former triathlete Dr Matt Brick was in order, and then came the shock of a proper diagnosis.
“I wasn’t getting any better so had some scans and went to Matt Brick. He immediately said I was in serious trouble and would require surgery. I had torn three tendons off the bone and am due in surgery on the 20th of this month, after which I will be in a sling for 12 weeks and not be able to train or race.
“So my only chance of a race this season is Craigs Investment Partners Tinman this weekend, the first round in the .kiwi Tri Series. I usually race in the standard distance and I think last year won my age group by about ten minutes. But with my arm not great, I will do the sprint distance on Sunday; I think 750 metres of one arm freestyle will be enough!”
Mathews struggles to lift his arm above his waist but ironically is most at home on the bike when he can use the handlebars for resistance and get into a tuck position without too much pain. He says surprisingly the swim will be reasonably quick even with ‘one arm’, but completely exhausting, hence the need to swim the shorter distance.
“It will be hard work but once I get on the bike I will be fine, I am still aiming for a 30 minute 20km ride. I was very fit when I had the accident in October and have maintained most of that fitness, albeit with a few extra kilo’s.
“I just love this sport though; I had around 12 years off after my long distance days and just loved racing all through last summer. There is nothing is as good as being out on a fast bike with a disc wheel rumbling along at 45km an hour, any opportunity I get to race I will take it and I can’t wait for this weekend – bad shoulder and all.”
Matthews will be amongst hundreds of others lining up in the 22nd running of the iconic Craigs Investment Partners Tinman on Sunday, and for the first time the event is part of the new .kiwi Tri Series. Races on offer include the children’s 1:2:1, beginners 3:9:3, sprint and standard distance events (both of which have teams options).
Late entries are being taken at Pilot Bay on Saturday from 3pm to 5pm, with registrations then and on Sunday morning from 6.30am