The Australian triathlon community – indeed much of the triathlon world - remains in shock as the man who turned the Noosa Triathlon into the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere died Sunday after a cycling accident in Spain.
Garth Prowd, known as the ‘Godfather’ of Australian triathlon, fell and was critically injured in a road bike accident while riding alone near Barcelona on Saturday, July 22, during a family holiday. Prowd was found unconscious, taken to a nearby hospital. He never regained consciousness and remained in a critical care unit for nine days until his life support was turned off on Sunday night. Prowd was 65.
His family issued a statement confirming his death:
“Garth passed away peacefully surrounded by his family – his greatest love – wife Robyn, daughters Sally, Megan, Katie and sons–in-laws Matt and Ben.
“He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend to many and his loss will be felt by all who knew him.
“While we mourn the loss of a truly remarkable man, we will remember his incredible life and his contribution to Australian sport.
“He was man who revolutionised triathlon, running and cycling events in Australia, who was himself an enthusiastic sportsman.
“Garth was widely renowned as ‘one of a kind’ for so many reasons. He loved music, sport, cars, motorbikes, surfing and most of all his family and friends.”
Prowd was managing director of Noosa-based USM Events for 24 years. Starting in 1985, two years after the first Noosa Triathlon, Prowd turned the event into a wildly popular multisport festival that included world class triathletes, road cyclists, swimmers and runners.
The Australian national newspaper wrote: “Mr. Prowd and his local staff ran the Noosa triathlon almost like an extended family. It was his personal touch that distinguished his organisation from all others and which made him one of them most-loved and successful event organisers in the country.”
The Noosa Triathlon was an ITU World Cup race for three years in the 1990s and has always attracted an internationally renowned field. It has primarily been an Olympic distance destination race for age groupers and two years ago it attracted 8,000 entries.
Prowd sold USM Events to the World Triathlon Corporation in 2009, but remained a consultant and officiated at the Noosa Triathlon finish line last year.
Prowd was awarded the Australian Sports medal in 2000, was nominated for the Australian of the Year in 2004 and received a Medal of the Order of Australian in 2005.
Amanda Lulham of Australia’s Daily Telegraph, wrote: “Tributes are pouring in from around the world following the death of a man who helped put the sport of triathlon on the map in Australia and the brains and passion behind the biggest race in the Southern Hemisphere…. Without Garth Prowd, triathlon in Australia would not be what it is today. He loved every aspect of it, from the organisation, to the athletes, the fans, the media, volunteers and the actual race itself. His passion was contagious and the sport - and the worlds of those Garth came in contact with - will be less for him no longer being with us."
The elites of triathlon have taken to social media in tribute.
“Very saddened by the passing of Garth Prowd,” wrote 1991 ITU World Champion Miles Stewart . “What a huge loss to his family, friends and the sport. He will always be remembered for his smile and his contribution to sport.”
“Garth was a legend and always a smiling face. Will be missed terribly. Thoughts with his family,’’ wrote triathlete Liz Blatchford on Twitter.
“Really sad news RIP Garth Prowd,” wrote 3-time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae.
“Just terrible news,” wrote 3-time Ironman World champion Craig Alexander.”
“Such sad news. Noosa will not be the same. Massive loss for our sport and the community. RIP Garth,” wrote Luke McKenzie on Twitter.