Amos Gollach - Zimbabwe to Kona

Amos Gollach now resides in Australia, but this M18-24 GoPro Ironman World Champion was born and grew up in Zimbabwe. Gollach recorded a 9:01:15 to take the win and that was a 46 minute improvement over his previous Kona effort where he finished 7th.

Slowtwitch: Thanks for your time Amos.

Amos Gollach: Not at all, thank you. Thrilled to be doing this, I can honestly say I never thought I would be here.

ST: Well you are here and we are glad it is so.

Amos: Thank you Herbert.

ST: We know you reside in Australia, but aren’t you originally from Mozambique?

Amos: I was actually born and grew up in Zimbabwe. I lived there till I was 16 at which point my family immigrated to Australia. We never wanted to leave but things became increasingly difficult under the Mugabe regime. It’s a real tragedy what happened to the country. Any way out of bad things good things sometimes happen, we ended up in Australia - which is now home. I can safely say that if we had not (moved) I wouldn’t have become a triathlete.

ST: What memories do you have of growing up in Zimbabwe and what sports did you pursue or enjoy?

Amos: I have a lot of very fond memories. It was an innocent place to grow up in many ways. Things people take for granted in the first world were considered luxuries. Most people didn't have Xboxes or Playstations. Sport was a large part of the culture and I played a lot of sport, mostly cricket. For a small country it produced a lot of very good athletes - Paula Newby Fraser is just one example.

ST: You are a student?

Amos: I am. I’m studying a Masters in Economics at the University of Western Australia. I’m not sure I will ever use it, the thought of sitting in a CBD office in a suit and tie is not something that appeals to me but being at university and in that environment has many positives for me as person, intellectually and as an athlete.

ST: Nice work in Kona. Did it all just click this year?

Amos: Thank you Herbert. Definitely, things have gone well this year. I think I found a good balance this year. I’ve been happy with life away from triathlon and its made swim biking and running that much more enjoyable. I’m very fortunate to have my family and girlfriend support me.

ST: I think many folks underestimate the importance of being happy outside of triathlon. It is good to hear you know this.

Amos: Absolutely, Triathlon is as much about what is above the shoulders as it is below. I think when the mind is happy the body will always follow. Stress and anxiety are quite literally killers.

ST: Your improvement from the 2012 race was quite big even when considering that the conditions were better this time. What changes has you made or what did you lean in Kona in 2012?

Amos: I started working with my coach Jarrod Evans at the being of the year and he has made a huge difference to me. He bought his ideas and processes to the table and they have worked. I think I built a pretty good base with my previous coach and Jarrod has managed to add some polish. I learned a lot last year too. I was fortunate in that Matt Burton who won the 18-24 age group the two years prior lives just 10mins down the road. Watching him go about his business I saw what it took to be competitive on the big island. But it also showed me that it is possible to be competitive in Hawaii. It’s a very intimidating place Hawaii, staying calm and just believing that you are good enough is half the battle leading into the race.

ST: I believe you qualified at Ironman at Ironman Cairns. What made you decide on that event?

Amos: I did qualify in Cairns, it was a race I was forced to do actually. I was originally hoping to qualify last year at Ironman Western Australia but got thumped by a 21 year old, Justin Brewer who went 8:52 in his first Ironman. So after that I was forced to race again in order to qualify.

ST: Justin recorded a 9:38:52 in Kona, not bad by any means, but do you know what happened to him?

Amos: I’m not sure as I haven’t spoken to him. 9:38 is still a very good race - people dream their whole lives of going 9:38 at Kona. The kid has a massive future though. If he is still racing in 10 years he will be a star.

ST: Is it fair to say that swimming is your weakness?

Amos: Certainly my swimming sucks, it did improve this year, I think I was 5 minutes quicker in Hawaii compared to last year but 1:02 is still very slow. Up to now as an age grouper more times than not I have been able to get away with a bad swim. However next year in the 25-29 age group I am going to need to swim better if I want to be competitive.

ST: What is on schedule to rectify that?

Amos: It’s just going to take a lot of miles, it’s very much a case of what you put in is what you get out. I swim with Ross Pedlow and Exceed Triathlon Club here in Perth. So I’m sure between Ross and Jarrod I’m going to be pretty wrinkly for next few years.

ST: Cycling wise you really stepped it up. Did you work on that specifically this year?

Amos: I’ve been doing a lot of ever gearing work this year for the first time, which I think has been really beneficial. I think it’s added a lot of strength particularly in the back half of the ride - which in the past had been my Achilles Heel.

ST: Are you riding with a power meter?

Amos: I do nearly all my riding with a power meter. It’s not always fun staring at numbers all day but it defiantly does work. Also, I live on the West Coast of Australia and Jarrod my coach on the East Coast, so I upload all my cycling and run files and send them to him on a daily basis in order that he can keep track of how I’m going.

ST: Did you get bike fitted by someone else or do you handle that yourself?

Amos: My bike fitting was done by Andrew Budge here in Perth. He is not a Retul fitter or anything like that but he knows what he is doing and I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

ST: I believe you were second into T2 in Kona and then took the lead on the run. Did you know the guy ahead or were you just looking at the calves?

Amos: Haha there were no numbers on the calves this year so you had to try and catch a quick peak of competitor’s race belts as you ran past. Then some people try hide their numbers so as to not to let you see. It’s competitive out there. I didn’t know who he was I saw my parents at the turn on Alii and they said I was about 8 minutes down. I then saw my coach and girlfriend at the top of Palani and I think I was about 5 minutes down so I knew the time was coming down. I dreamt about that scenario a thousand times in training. A foot race from the turn in the Energy Lab. Who doesn’t dream of that?

ST: When you caught the Austrian guy, did he try to step it up?

Amos: I didn’t actually know I had caught him, I’m still not sure where I did. I think it may have been exiting the Energy Lab. I spoke to him afterwards and he said he struggled a bit when I passed him. He had an amazing race none the less. I think he rode 4:35 it’s just insane.

ST: Next year you will be racing in M25-29 and it took 8:47:36 to win it this year. Is that a manageable goal?

Amos: I’d like to think so but we will see. I guess we are going to find out. That’s a fair bit quicker so things are going to have to go well for me this year in order for me to be competitive in 25-29. I guess 5 minutes in the swim would be handy.

ST: Talk about your coaching situation.

Amos: I started working with Jarrod Evans from Endurance Team at the beginning of the year. I had previously worked with Andrew Budge from Trysport here Perth. Andrew was great but I had a limited amount of contact with him. I train mostly alone and I found it too easy to miss sessions in big weeks simply because I was only accountable to myself. So after getting beaten at IM WA I thought I needed a change. I thought I needed a coach who was more involved with actually overseeing my training on a day-to-day basis and who I was accountable to. Training with Jarrod has been fantastic in that regard. I send him all my files for analysis and speak to him more days than not.

ST: And what is next?

Amos: Hopefully Geelong 70.3 and Ironman Melbourne in March. I developed a stress reaction in a bone I never knew I had, the Medial Sesamoid bone in my left foot in the lead up to Kona, so I need to give that time to heal and then hopefully I will be left with enough time to have a solid build for Melbourne.

ST: You raced in a very plain kit in Kona - do you think that will change?

Amos: Yes I’ve started working with Hammer who are helping me out with all my nutrition, Forage Cereal who make some really cool healthy muesli are also helping me out with my fueling and De Grandi Cycles along with Wilier bikes are going help me out with a bike. That’s not a large number of companies but all very good people and really great products.

ST: Is there anything else we should know?

Amos: I don’t think so, my story is no different to anyone else’s out there. I’m just a guy who likes riding his bike. I have little talent, in fact in my first triathlon I came stone last in my age group. I was seven hundred and something overall and got beaten by more than two hundred women.