Hobart-born Cameron Wurf has spent more than half of his life in elite sport. His storied career to date suggests that he is more than capable of turning his hand to anything he commits himself to.
Rowing was his first passion, winning the National Schoolboy Sculling crown at the 2001 Australian Rowing Championships. Progressing to the Junior and then Under-23 national teams, he was part of the World Championship-winning lightweight coxless four at the 2013 World Rowing U23 Championships.
12 months later he reached the Olympic Games in Atlanta, representing his country in the lightweight double scull.
When his rowing career ended in 2006, cycling would be the next target for the versatile Aussie.
Wurf would spend several years in the professional peloton with teams including Liquigas-Cannondale and Champion System. During this time, he raced in both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, two of cycling’s most iconic races, before another sport came calling.
Announcing his intention to take a year out from the professional cycling scene in 2015, he said, “I don’t feel like I have been racing to the level I am capable of, and that’s wasting my time and the team’s time. If I am continuing on in the sport, I want to be really good at something - or as good as I can possibly be at something - and focus on that. That’s my objective.”
Into the unknown
In that same 2015 interview, Wurf revealed, “I’ve done the odd triathlon. As a kid I was quite good. I can run quite well”. It was a hint as to his next career move.
At short notice, he decided to do an IRONMAN triathlon. Whistler in Canada was the venue and while specific preparation was limited, the results were solid. Racing as an amateur in this new sport, he was the first age-group finisher. His cycling, of course, was exceptionally strong and faster than all of the Pro athletes, but he was still more than half an hour slower than the men’s winner.
As a child, Wurf had dreamed of racing at the World Championship in Kona, and qualification in Whistler would provide that opportunity. Two fractured metatarsals in his foot collected while mountain biking would however turn his dream of competing into one more of simply completing.
The first age-group athlete off the bike at the pier next to Dig Me Beach, every step of the marathon would leave him wincing in pain.
More than five painful hours later he would make it back to the finish line on Ali’i Drive, before commenting: “ Yep, I'm hooked and I'm going to do my very, very best to put the right foot forward in the future and get back to Kona to race!” When he returned, it would be in the professional ranks.
Wurf’s route to learning his new sport reflected his cycling roots - race, race and then race again. While most pro triathletes race twice, perhaps three times per year over the iron-distance, Wurf, under the guidance of coach Tim Kerrison, was not about to adhere to convention.
After qualifying for Kona 2017 in Kalmar, Sweden in late August, Wurf headed to Tenby in South Wales to race again before his date on the Big Island.
“I'd recovered so well after Zurich and bounced back so strong in Sweden that we may as well go to Wales as part of my preparation for Kona”, he explained.
With the worst of the British weather and on one of the toughest courses around, Wurf displayed his cycling prowess to lead by nine minutes after the 180km bike leg and then proved that he could now hold his form on the run too. He was, for the first time, an IRONMAN Champion.
Once in Hawaii he smashed the bike course record, to reach T2 alone en route to a 17th-place finish. Twelve months later he returned and another bike course record followed, this time with improved running legs which saw him lead the race until 10 miles into the marathon. He improved his finishing position to ninth.
There was to be no bike course record in 2019, but Wurf was more interested in winning the race. Another step up to fifth was his reward with the promise of even better to come.
All in on INEOS
Wurf has spent much of his time in recent years training alongside the likes of Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and the riders of Team SKY/Team INEOS. Tim Kerrison, their Head of Athlete Performance, is also Cameron’s coach.
In early 2020, the sudden retirement of Vasil Kiryienka left a vacancy open on the INEOS roster, and when offered the chance to join the team in support of his Kona objectives, he didn’t need to be asked twice.
"This is an organisation I've dreamt of being part of since it started and it's amazing to officially pull on the colours,” he said.
“I am really excited and proud to represent Team INEOS."
Wurf already had some equipment ready courtesy of a Team INEOS source - a bike gifted to him by 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal.
One of the most charismatic characters on the circuit, Wurf brings colour to every triathlon he competes in, both on and off the course. Look out for that confidence ahead of the debut edition of the PTO flagship Collins Cup event in 2021.
Part of the same Internationals team as Lionel Sanders, the pre-race banter is only likely to be surpassed by their attacking efforts on the course.