- 25 Aug 2004
- Athens 2004
Latecomer Allen makes up for lost time in triathlon
Kate Allen had been running since she was a little girl growing up in Australia. She used to run to school and back each day, a 6km round trip, and competed in both track and cross-country events.
However, she didn't turn to full-time sport until later in life. Instead Allen graduated from university and worked as a nurse. She was a passionate traveller and it was during one of her trips that she met an Austrian triathlete called Marcel Diechtler, who was to change her life.
For one thing, she fell in love and married Marcel. By the time they became man and wife, he had already persuaded Allen to become a triathlete. She was 26 by the time she took up the sport, and it wasn't until 2002, when she was 32, that she started taking part in World Cup events, by which point she was an Austrian citizen by virtue of her marriage. She took to her new vocation immediately.
Not surprisingly given her childhood regime, her biggest strength was running, and while she was also proving to be a decent cyclist, her swimming was relatively weak. Overall, though, she was starting to produce some fast finishes and some impressive results.
In just her third World Cup race she took a bronze medal, and then won a silver at the 2004 European Championships in Spain. It was a remarkable feat for a 34 year old who had only taken up the sport eight years earlier.
Having earned herself a place on the Austrian Olympic team, she arrived in Athens as a relative outsider. As expected, her swimming performance was comparatively poor, as she emerged from the water lying 44th out of 51 competitors. The cycling leg saw her move up the field to 28th.
Way ahead of her, Australia's Loretta Harrop was leading and looking in fine form. Joint leader after the swim, she moved clear in the cycling, but the running was her weakest element.
At this point Allen was nearly three minutes off the pace and unaware of her place in the competition. She simply ran as fast as she could, and was soon moving up through the field. Incredibly, with 200m left, she had only Harrop ahead of her.
Allen produced a final burst of speed to race past the leader and powered across the line more than six seconds clear to claim an unexpected gold.