Some athletes are so talented their skill can transfer across a number of sports. There are a select few whose natural talent and work ethic have seen success when they changed sports.
The most notable in Australia is Israel Folau. Folau shot to prominence in rugby league playing for the Melbourne Storm in the National Rugby League (NRL) from 2007 to 2008. He then changed clubs to the Brisbane Broncos from 2009 to 2010. As one of the NRL's most athletic and skilled players, Folau was rewarded by playing representative football for Australia and Queensland State of Origin.
But in 2011 he shocked the sporting world by changing codes joining Greater Western Sydney in the Australian Football League (AFL). Again at the end of 2012, Folau announced another code change by signing to play rugby union for the NSW Waratahs and then Australian Wallabies. His rare mix of ball handling skills and athletic talent have kept him at the top of each of these three codes. He is truly an amazing athlete.
Another recent sport change was seen in the career of professional triathlete and former middle distance runner Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison).
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Hauschildt shot to the general public's attention competing in the Steeplechase, picking up silver with an attacking run. She has personal bests for 1500m of 4.09.80 (Hobart, 9/03/02) and her speciality event, the 3000m steeplechase, of 9.24.29 (Melbourne, 22/03/06). Her profile on the track increased through these events, despite her constant battle with injuries.
However, in 2011 Hauschildt's bid for the Delhi Commonwealth Games was snagged by more injury. These injuries saw her try cross-training to keep her fitness. The result was that she loved the multi-sport format so much she switched to triathlon. She made a full-time dedicated switch to triathlon and went on to be undefeated in her first full year in the sport.
Again, her athletic abilities saw her shoot onto the world stage at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championship where she took her first world title. Her recent victory at the Asia Pacific Ironman Championships in Melbourne proved she is now one of the top athletes on the world stage. Hauschildt destroyed the opposition in an amazing time for the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run course. Her time of 8:52:51 is one of the fastest ever, with splits of 54min for the swim, 4hrs 48min for the bike and 3hrs 06min for the run. For Hauschildt the change of sports has paid off and she looks like being one of the world's leaders in the sport of triathlon.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html