by Jo Baxas
Col Stewart is one of the names in triathlon that everybody should know. He has a resume that reads like a who’s who of triathlon medalists. He has trained World Champions, his son Miles Stewart, the great Stephen Foster, Olivier Marceau and of course Chris McCormack. To this day he still coaches Kiyomi Niwata arguably the most successful Asian female triathlete EVER.
Elite results include
9 ITU World Champions
2 Dual Olympians
1 Triple Olympian
3 Asian Championships champions
2 Asian Games Champions
Col took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Col is known in the sport for his honesty and he is not afraid to voice his opinion!
Jo Baxas – What do you believe is the secret to your success?
Col Stewart – Commitment, loving what I do with a passion and respecting those I find, coach & motivate. I spend my life always learning new ways. I would die if I ever stopped learning new things & designing all new training ways and methods. I am always learning & innovating new skills that is what helps to keep me young.
JB – What other coaches in the business do you admire and respect?
Col – None but I am very good friends with some top Olympic sports coaches & motivators. I know that we would respect each other and our overall knowledge of sports in general. Actually I believe that most TA coaches are past swim coaches, very few if any are Specialist Triathlon Coaches equally skilled in swim – transition – bike – transition – run. I was blessed as I have been a head coach for Speed Skating, Swimming, Cycling as well as Triathlon and I have coached some world class runners. Guess one could say that Coaching Triathlon was very easy for me to get into.
JB -And which ones do you not and why?
Col– I never ever asked anybody in Triathlon for help as there is a bloody sad lack of coaching knowledge out there & that’s world-wide. Personally! I never picked up athletes that were already good, then claimed them as mine! I guess I never felt that insecure as I always created my own champions. It would be impossible to say that about other coaches.
My mottos are:
“I coach the best – to be the best”
“Everybody is beatable”.
“Nothing is impossible
“Always avoid negativity & negative thinking people”.
Above all “ALWAYS AVOID STINKIN THINKIN” Macca will remember that one.
JB – Who have been your favourite athletes to coach and why?
Col – Everyone of them as they all had and were allowed to have & keep their own personalities.They say children cannot select their own parents. However they can select their own coach meaning they are given a choice. I require commitment, and a certain willingness to learn, adaptability, strength & toughness. I do not tolerate injuries.
“IT IS MY JOB AS THEIR COACH TO DEVELOP THE ATHLETE WITHIN”
I do this by developing & teaching them superior strength, power, motivation, then honing their individual skills, in swim, bike, run, & specific exercises in breathing. They all start off with the same chances to learn & progress it’s available to all.
However not all can handle, or make it, but the ones that do; have mastered or passed the first steps to becoming champions. The top ones always look for more work and even a harder way to do it!
I never allow followers or ones waiting for a hand out – all must work to eat.
JB – And conversely who was the most difficult to train? Who gave you the toughest time? (Macca?)
Col – None really. Macca? He was just a pussy – loveable but a big pussy! I seem to remember that he lasted about 45 mins with me in his first session.
I also remember reporters etc used to ask Miles “How is it training under your father? ”
Miles would always reply with the same answer: -“Easy! He is bigger than me!” and “I will stop when I stop getting the top results!”
JB – Funniest Macca story – go!
Col – Nobody that trains with or has trained with me is a joke! However, I am sure Macca will for the rest of his life remember these words as spoken and screamed out every day from everyone in the squad!
S H U T U P M A C C A!
Many enlarged on this by saying and I quote:
S H U T T H E F U C K U P M A C C A!
Then adding “you know he can always make it harder!”
JB – Let’s talk about the sport right now in Australia. Historically, along with the USA, Australia have had the top spots in the sport but with the emergence of Gomez and the Brownlees the crown is slipping. If you had the chance to coach or be a part of the Aussie Olympic team what would you do?
Col – Fair to say when I was The Head Coach of TA thru to 2003 Australia was the top Triathlon Nation in the world. I coached 14 of the top 22 Males in the world and 5 of the top 15 females in the world. The Brownlees? Sure! The English & Spanish & now some others are good that is because they are not afraid to train & work hard or of “having a go” for their rewards.
I do not believe they are better or unbeatable but the Australians need to stop putting them up on a bloody pedestal. They need to toughen up and to train harder.
ABOVE ALL THEY NEED TO DO IT NOW – BUT IT COULD BE CLOSE TOO LATE! Right now I believe they are about as motivated as: – “A SMACK IN THE BELLY WITH A WET FISH” and dropping.
JB – Why do you think you haven’t been given this role?
Col – Too hard – too tough – know far too much about the coaching & the sport itself. TA (Triathlon Australia) want followers – I am a leader. TA want yes men – that is not me! They are scared of my knowledge & past results – I already have many of these. Easier to keep me in the too hard to handle basket.
When I was asked by the top TA brass “What would you do to fix the problems?”
I said “Fire the bloody lot top to bottom then start all over again as I did in 2000!”
TA “You can’t do that!”
“I already did in 2000 furthermore it worked.” Then everybody had to work and produce – or not get paid.
TA have made suggestions for re-employing me but always like the mirror they are, they are always looking into it – seeing only what is in front of them.
JB -Ironman – what do you think the future of Ironman is?
Col – The future will always be there while most Triathletes have the IM-Kona as their holy grail.
I feel they need some real strong coaching input into their organisations for races etc.
JB – Is WTC holding the athletes both pro and AG to ransom?
Col – Of course for the same reasons as stated above Kona &”their need to become an IM!” Entry costs and many other problems make it hard for all athletes.
JB – Do you see Challenge (now with it’s merger with Rev3) making a real impact on the sport?
Col – I know that competition is great for any venture. For the Pro there seems to be a lot more on offer money wise..
JB -Professional Triathletes – of course there are some stand out successes, Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Crowie, Macca, Chrissie, Rinny – who have made the sport their living (though even Macca has a daytime job now). What is your advice to up and coming pros on how to make a sustainable living from the sport both during their career and after? A good athlete does not necessarily make a good coach.
Col – You only mentioned IM are you bias to the sport?!?!? I do not have heroes in my life only great human beings. These are those that believe in themselves. Everyone needs to work for their living as that is what our life is about. Triathlon is not up with the big money sports but it seem to be improving. Athletes usually do not make good coaches the better they were the harder it gets.
JB – Age Groupers – What is your advice to age groupers wanting to get the best out of themselves and the sport?
Col – It is hard for athletes to be professionals in our sport hard for them to allot their time. A few like Miles, Kiyomi can live a life of a pro by being able to use their spare time. Whereas the age grouper must work, look after family and then train. So they must learn how to utilise the little time they have. If they have good coaching they can.
Work quality more than quantity unlike many do! NO PAIN NO GAIN Is a total load of BS.
JB – What’s the most common mistake you see age groupers make?
Col -This sport is made of of 3 individual Olympic fully coached sports. However it is ONE SPORT – their mistake is they believe they can train themselves. They read stupid coaching manuals & become very good at getting injured.
COACHING TRIATHLON IS AN ART AS THIS IS THREE OLYMPIC SPORTS, VERY FEW HAVE THE SKILLS TO DO THIS.
The problem is federations are not equipped to train specialist triathlon coaches. THAT LITTLE PIECE OF PLASTIC DOES NOT ” MAKE YOU A COACH”
Superior knowledge and skills of the three different Olympic sports helps.
JB -And finally – if Gomez and the Brownlees move over to Ironman full distance who do you think will win?
Col – Who bloody well cares? I am over hearing or watching people look up their arses! Gomez and I go back a while he had a good race 70.3 I quite like the guy. The winners are not pre chosen on name. They are however usually the ones that worked the hardest. That is: – WORKED THE HARDEST TO GET “THEIR” RESULT!
Check out Col Stewart’s website, he really is one amazing guy.