The year 2003 was witness to positive highlights in the sport of triathlon. The year also marked the first death anniversary of an up-and-coming triathlete who died from a hit-and-run accident.
Kemper takes home the gold
Olympian Hunter Kemper is known as the “Wonder Boy” of triathlon, a fitting name for such an impressive triathlete. Kemper took home the first prize at the IronKids Triathlon National Championships at the tender age of 10 and has since been inseparable from the sport. He continued his impressive first place position in the said event for five consecutive years. When he was 15 years old, he again dominated the 1992 USA Triathlon National Amateur Championships.
Though Kemper didn’t take home the gold during triathlon’s inauguration at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, he achieved the seventeenth-best finish for the men’s division. Three years later, Kemper took the first ever gold for his home country USA during the 2003 Pan American Games conducted in the Dominican Republic.
Zemaitis becomes overall champion
A cross country and varsity swimmer during his college years, Joseph Zemaitis is no stranger to the sport of triathlon. Zemaitis set the goal to conquer the grueling Hawaii Ironman when he was only 12 years old. As soon as he hit the age of 18, he signed up for the 1998 Hawaii Ironman and flew to the Big Island to follow his longtime dream.
Incidentally at the time, Zemaitis was the youngest to have ever signed up for the race. And his efforts were well rewarded when he finished the course in less than ten hours, making him the second-best American finisher that year. He again made his country proud in 2003 when he became the Overall Amateur Champion at an Ironman race held in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Australian triathlon renamed in memory of triathlete
Luke Harrop, a native of Australia, was an emerging triathlete. He was the twin brother of Loretta Harrop, an Olympic triathlete who placed fifth overall during triathlon’s inaugural race at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
On a fateful day in January 13, 2002, Harrop was hit by a speeding car while training on Gold Coast Highway in Brisbane, Australia. The driver, Sandra Wilde, who was at the time driving a stolen vehicle, and was without a license and on bail for various offences, fled the scene and left Harrop bleeding to death.
Harrop suffered extensive head trauma and was taken off life support a day after the accident. He was 24 years old. To honor the triathlete’s legacy, the popular Australian Gold Coast Triathlon was renamed the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial in 2003.
Snowsill snags the gold
Emma Snowsill, another Australian native, emerged as the champion at the 2003 Queenstown ITU Triathlon World Championships. Certainly not a stranger to the grueling race, Snowsill first made herself and her country proud when she brought home the gold during the 2000 Perth ITU Triathlon World Championships in the 16-20 age group category. She was voted as Australia’s Triathlete of the Year 2000 as well. Snowsill was Luke Harrop’s girlfriend at the time of Harrop’s tragic accident.