O'Neill first in Sufferfest triathlon

EMMA O’Neill had her bike stolen at Christmas.

But the Ballarat triathlete didn’t let it ruin her 2014 preparation.

O’Neill, 29, used her mother’s bike to power to her first Warrnambool Sufferfest victory yesterday.

The mother of three finished the gruelling long-course triathlon in four hours, 30 minutes and 28 seconds, collecting a winner’s cheque she will put towards a new bike.

O’Neill won the women’s section from Amanda Wilson (4.35.42).

She said the two-kilometre swim, 80km ride and 20km run was tough and required a strong mental focus.

“I found it hard with the hills,” she said. “The last five kilometres of the run was the toughest of the day.

“The swim was pretty good but the course is quite hilly, so that’s the hardest part.”

O’Neill and Wilson had their own battle throughout the race, with O’Neill gaining a winning edge on the bike leg.

“I passed her halfway on the bike and I was steady on the run,” she said. “It is pretty exciting. I didn’t think I’d be able to win it, but I just kept slugging along.”

O’Neill’s sister Kate completed the Sufferfest course too, placing third in her 20-25 years age group.

The family kept celebrations to a minimum with another triathlon in May to train for.

“We’re training for the Port Macquarie ironman and after that we get to celebrate,” she said.

Seaford rising star Tom Rodgers won the men’s Sufferfest section in 3.45.45.  

The Sufferfest, and its shorter Olympic distance event, Olyfest, is in its second year. 

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