Multisport: Committed Osborne boxing above weight

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay multisporter Luke Osborne is a keen skipper on his rest days.

"It's something I enjoy and find beneficial. It's part of my training and I took it from boxing ... those boxers are so fit," Osborne explained before starting a paddling training session on Napier's Pandora Pond last night.

When it was suggested Osborne might make an ideal starter for Battle for Life and other charity boxing events in the Bay, he was quick to reply.

"No way ... I'm too skinny and too small. I tried it once against one of my mates who was a golden gloves champion and I didn't last too long."

Havelock North's Osborne, 29, pointed out he has been injury-free since taking up multisport seriously a year ago and he wants to keep things that way. Already regarded as the province's top duathlete, Osborne has the potential to emulate the feats of the Bay's king of multisport - 2004 Coast to Coast winner George Christison.

"I don't know George that well but he is a guy I have a lot of respect for. He is a real bloke, a man of the land who achieved what he did while still working fulltime," Osborne said of the Tutira-based curator.

A self-employed builder, Osborne said he has no intention of becoming a fulltime multisporter.

"It's important you have that balance in life. It's not like rugby, there's not enough money for too many people to make a living out of it fulltime. I think the Usshers are the only ones who can do that," he said referring to Nelson couple Richard and Elina Ussher who are regular visitors to the Bay for the Lake Waikaremoana Challenge.

On Thursday, Osborne will travel to Rotorua to prepare for his second start in the Australasian Multisport Champs on Sunday. It involves a 9km paddle at Blue Lake, a 30km mountainbike ride in the Whakarewarewa Forest and an 11km run in the forest.

Last year Osborne finished fifth in 2hrs57m and ahead of several big name competitors including Aussie John Jacoby, a three-time Coast to Coast winner in 1988, 1989 and 1993. He will aim for another top five finish this weekend.

"It's going to be tough because there are a couple more top Aussies coming over. I will be happy with a time under three hours but if the weather conditions are good I could achieve 2hrs45 ... I'm a lot stronger on the paddle now."

Osborne has had the best possible buildup with wins in the April Porirua Grand Traverse Multisport race, the May Hutt City Crazyman race and the March Triple Peaks duathlon in a record time.

Back in November he recorded a top four finish in the Lake Waikaremoana Challenge behind multisport legends Richard Ussher, Dougal Allen and Trevor Voyce.

"The flexibility involved with being self-employed was a key factor in these results," Osborne, who trains up to 20 hours a week, said.

"Depending on the race that time can build up. Most of my paddling training is done at Pandora, my mountainbike training is done up Te Mata Peak or at Eskdale and I do a lot of road running and road cycling," Osborne explained.

Next month he will travel to Australia to tackle a series of adventure races and mountainbike races.

"It's all part of my planning for my first attempt at the Coast to Coast next year," Osborne said referring to the prestigious South Island event which is regarded as the world championship of multisport.

"I'll be aiming for a top 10 finish in that and if everything goes well I will tackle the GODZone Adventure Race in the South Island in March."

Like most successful multisporters Osborne boasts a formidable support staff. It includes top kayaking coach Phil Dooney, EIT sports scientist Carl Paton, Hilton Taylor of Revolution Bikes and his wife Lisa, a recently retired, nationally-ranked track athlete.

One of the risks of his jobs is joining fellow workers on building sites in the eating of food not normally seen on multisporters nutrition lists.

"Every little bit counts. I've reduced my bread intake and I know the importance of veges and fruit," Osborne said.

Should he over indulge on pies and donuts he knows the perfect remedy ... extra time with the skipping rope.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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