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By: Richard Von Wilderman, My Sport – On the Water, Saturday, April 20, 2013


IRON WILL: Top team Kevin and Nicholas Garwood received a special prize when Swiss Ironman champion Ronnie Schildknecht presented the pair with his winner’ trophy

When normal people attempt the extraordinary, they become heroes – that was the case for almost 1800 SpecSavers Ironman athletes last weekend.

Forget the cynics and nay-sayers about the expense and disruption. Ironman galvanises Port Elizabeth like no other sporting spectacle and, dare we say, even more than the 2010 FIFA World Cup did.

Two competitors who completed their first Ironman triathlon as a team particularly captured the hearts of all involved.

Father and son, Kevin and Nicholas Garwood have battled through thick and thin to reach this point. When Nicholas was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it took the family time to absorb the reality of living with a special-needs child. However, Kevin and his wife Cheryl have a steely determination and are two of the nicest people you could ever meet.

“I never thought the two of us could do something together. When you look at sport you sometimes have tunnel vision. You imagine only able-bodied people or those disabled in a certain way can compete,” Kevin said.

“In our first duathlon we were last! It took us forever to finish. Before the last run I asked Nicholas if we should stop or carry on. When he said: “I want my medal Dad!” we pushed on. People were just so supportive. By the time we were finishing they were already in their cars on their way home. But when they saw us, many stopped, got out of their cars and cheered us on.”

Kevin and Nicholas also competed in the hurricane-force winds which lashed the field in last year’s edition of the event. Your correspondent was privileged enough to witness the greatest Ironman swim of all time when he seconded Team Garwood.

Kevin put in a performance like no other, crashing through a maelstrom of swells, with Nicholas cheering with delight in the kayak. Their swim in 2012 was a mere 6 minutes from the cut-off, compared with this year’s brilliant 1 hour 15-minute effort.

With the water a balmy 18° C, the Garwoods cut through the swim and made their way onto the next two legs. Cheered on by the crowd, the Garwoods etched themselves into the history books.

Another highlight was the standing ovation they received at the prize giving at the new Boardwalk Convention Centre. Well done! On the Water salutes you and wishes Team Garwood many more Ironman victories.

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