Ironman Damien conjures image of Forest Gump

FAMILY: Ironman Damien Coad, left, with sister Tracy Smith and parents Judy and Dennis Coad were pictured at a recent get-together.
FAMILY: Ironman Damien Coad, left, with sister Tracy Smith and parents Judy and Dennis Coad were pictured at a recent get-together.

Damien Coad likes to keep moving.

STEPPING OUT: Damien Coad strides into his marathon run as part of the Ironman contest.

STEPPING OUT: Damien Coad strides into his marathon run as part of the Ironman contest.

On the Ironman circuit, he pounds the pavement, swims the ocean and rides his bike so efficiently that he is in the top 10 in his age group in the world.

But the former Port Pirie school dux and accountant, now living in Cairns, Queensland, also likes to keep up his momentum in life, so much so that he compares himself to the much-travelled movie hero Forrest Gump.

He has lived on an island, travelled the world as a diving instructor, worked as a dive-boat skipper, been a naturalist and has studied business and economics.

Now he is taking a Master’s Degree in Education so that he can pursue his new dream to become a teacher.

“It is a bit of a Forest Gump existence so we will see what chocolates fall out of the box this year and see where teaching takes me,” he said.

Damien, 46, was speaking on the phone from his home where he was still puffing after riding his exercise bike.

He is the son of Dennis and Judy Coad who brought the family to Port Pirie in 1995 where Damien became dux of Risdon Park High School and worked as an accountant at the smelter.

Dennis said his son had been to places that he had only read about.

“He is a clever fellow really – I don’t know where he gets it from,” he said.

Damien works as a dive-boat skipper for Pro-Dive in Cairns and is busy preparing for his next Ironman challenge in New Zealand.

In October at the world championships in Hawaii, he missed the podium by a whisker to finish in the top 10 in the 45-49 year age group.

He covered a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre bike ride and 42.2-kilometre marathon run.

Incredibly, the competitors in his age group are considered among the best performers of all.

“The 35 to 49 age group sets the fastest times. The 18 to 24 age group is probably slowest. Their bodies have not quite adapted to the distance or they are more gung-ho, although in the Half-Ironman they are really quick,” he said.

“You just have to look after your body with a lot of rolling, massage and stretching – that is probably half of the training.”

While Forrest Gump may have entertained movie-goers while sitting on a park bench eating chocolates, another identity, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has made the Ironman event famous,

“I don’t see Tony in his budgie-smugglers, thank goodness. He can stay down in Canberra with those.” Damien laughed.

He said he liked to return to the district for Christmas with his parents on their Warnertown farm every two years and had noted a “phenomenal” change in Port Pirie.

Damien is now embarking on the next chapter of his life.