I followed Terenzo Bozzone’s 2017 Kona closer than most. Whilst the world’s eyes were focused on the Lange-Sanders pass, my attention was fixed on the best and closest battle of the day, a few kilometres back on the Queen K. Terenzo Bozzone and my husband James, ‘toed and froed’ for about twenty kilometres in an extraordinary battle for fifth place. Sometimes silent, sometimes talking, sometimes grunting, the two men shared a very special experience. I know the dialogue, the play-fight and the real battle cries that played out in that hour. Later I learnt of the respect, the sportsmanship and the class in defeat of the man we know as ’Tee’.

Since Kona 2017 the thoroughbred Bozzone has been unmatched in consistent race performances. His winning streak is unprecedented in long distance triathlon history.

He started with a remarkable 2nd place at Island House Triathlon, Terenzo beating the world’s best short course athletes at their own game, long since having left Olympic distance racing. Then, back to his day job, he won Ironman Busselton, was 2nd in Ironman 70.3 Bahrain and (hang on there’s more), won Ironman 70.3 Los Cabos. All in time to be home for Christmas.

The negative consequences of an early-2018 forced break bought on by a harsh virus were already undetectable by March. In a similar race binge, Bozzone rewrote some more Ironman history, winning three Ironman events in fifteen days: Ironman New Zealand, Ironman 70.3 Bariloche, and Ironman 70.3 Campeche. Bish-bosh-bash. Terenzo likes his race blocks and it is obvious to see why.

Concentrated race months, interspersed with long training blocks on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018 have hinted at Terenzo’s focus to make the Kona podium. A bronze at Ironman Cairns in June was a good indicator of his ability to deliver just that in 2018…

But the best-laid plans … an horrific ‘hit and run’ incident whilst training in New Zealand has left Terenzo’s 2018 preparation in tatters. For one scary moment on July 3, race results, Kona preparation, even triathlon itself, became irrelevant as the world waited for news of Terenzo’s condition.

When word finally came it was that Terenzo was seriously injured but in recovery. Hand surgery, face surgery, bruising and broken ribs are difficult injuries for anybody. For a world-class sportsman, 3 months from the World Championships they are devastating. Those injuries, coupled with serious concussion and the emotional fall out, have delivered the most difficult setback of Terenzo’s long career.

Nobody expected Terenzo Bozzone to be on the start line in October 2018. But he will be.

Nobody expects him to be fully prepared for the most competitive race of the season. In fact nobody would blame him if he never wanted to ride a bike again. The world, however, should know by now not to underestimate Terenzo Bozzone. He will surprise us every time. His presence in Kona 2018, racing for the Bahrain Endurance team, is a show of just how inspirational sport and its heroes can be far beyond sport itself. He is the pride of the team.