HOMETOWN HERO: Hard work pays off for Lochie
LOCHIE Armstrong is now just the fourth Hervey Bay athlete to have won an Australian schools triathlon title.
He led from start to finish in yesterday's junior male race to follow in the footsteps of Christian Wilson, Brooke Willis and Matt Hauser as one of Hervey Bay's national champions.
"Last year I was able to represent Queensland so I had some experience as a young kid, but to do it on my home ground was awesome," Lochie said.
Lochie's coach Brian Harrington, who served as co-convener with Cass Kimlin for the School Sport Australia 19 and Under Triathlon Championships, could not mask his emotion as his young charge crossed the finish line.
"All of his family are here - his grandparents, everyone," Harrington said.
"It's just fantastic for a young local boy and for Hervey Bay. It's the first ever nationals at Hervey Bay and he won it on his home track.
"I'm so proud of him."
Lochie's swim and bike legs are his strongest suits.
He powered to a top three finish at the state championships two months ago on the back of the first two legs, and had enough in his run to nab a podium finish.
Lochie worked closely with Harrington to improve his running, and that specialised coaching paid dividends where it mattered most: on the track.
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"He's really improved from state," Harrington said.
"The big thing is we said we had to work on his run leg. We said 'when you get off that bike, how much do you want it?' and he wanted it a lot, he took it and now he's a junior national champion.
"I knew he'd get up the order in the top few (but) I had everything crossed.
"We've had excellent triathletes; Christian Wilson, Brooke Willis, Matt Hauser and now Lochie Armstrong. Eight national titles have come out of Hervey Bay in the past few years which is special."
Hauser, himself a four-time national champion, joined in the excited celebrations.
"It's great to see an ex-training partner perform to the best of their ability and come out on top," Hauser said.
"To do it in his home town is absolutely amazing for him and I'm sure he'll soak it up."
While everyone else celebrated his achievement, Lochie, who thanked coaches Harrington and Caleb Ryan, was still unable to grasp the significance of his monumental achievement.
The national championship may take some time to sink in, but nothing can remove Lochie Armstrong's name from the record books.