A talent for multi-tasking is taking leading Hawke’s Bay athlete Fred Koenders all the way to China where he will represent New Zealand in the World Triathlon Championships.
Koenders has a high profile in Hawke’s Bay, not only as a triathlete but also as EIT’s Dean of Humanities, Arts and Trades, president of the Hawke’s Bay Multisports Club and chairman of Sport Hawkes’ Bay.
Adding to the challenges of a busy life, he has had to work hard at overcoming a serious injury to get back into competitive sport. After damaging his Achilles tendon running, he had reconstructive surgery 3 ½ years ago and puts his full recovery down to carefully following his rehab programme and the advice of his physiotherapist.
To now realise his dream of wearing New Zealand’s silver fern is all the sweeter, he says – “it’s always been a goal to represent my country in sport”.
Koenders will compete in Beijing on 11 September in an event that will attract competitors from all over the world. Any one country is permitted a maximum of 12 entries in each age group and he is one of three New Zealanders who will take part in the 55-59 year category.
“I’ve waited until this age where there is less competition to qualify,” he laughs about this first tilt at a world champs at the age of 55. “It’s a battle of attrition now.”
Another triathlon goal was to take part in the New Zealand Ironman event, which he did in 1994 and 1995. Realising his ambition to compete in a world championship doesn’t mean he has any thoughts about retiring from the sport.
“The world champs are to be held in Auckland next year and I plan to be there for that, fingers crossed.”
Most days involve two training sessions, and the weekly regime is for 10km of swims, 205km of runs and cycling totalling 170kms. To that, he adds three weights sessions focused on core strengthening exercises.
Koenders has been a triathlete for 20 years, and one of the aspects he most enjoys is his involvement with the Hawke’s Bay Multisports Club, where he has been president for the last seven years.
“Everyone gets on, everyone is positive and they are incredibly supportive of one another,” he says of a wide-ranging membership.
The club has 250 members and last year had 7300 participants in its events, making it one of New Zealand’s biggest for the sport. It’s also been very successful, winning New Zealand Club of the Year for two successive years. Eight members qualified for the world champs, although Koenders is the only one going.
Basketball was Koenders sport when he was younger, and he played at a representative level when he was a student at Massey University.
“I’ve always been active really,” he says. “I think it helps with my job at EIT in that it’s a good way of maintaining a work-life balance. I feel really fit and can cope with a lot of work because of that.”