THE story of Canberra triathlete Ntasha Gerebtzoff is a tale that needs to be told, if for nothing else but as a reminder that if we have a dream we should never give up.
Forty-one-year-old Ntasha has qualified for the World Ironman Triathlon titles in Hawaii in October. She has qualified as one of 80 in her age division worldwide, but that’s just a small part of the story.
Last year, five weeks before attempting to qualify for the world titles for the sixth time, Ntasha was diagnosed with two separate types of stage-three cancerous cells; one of which was deemed aggressive and incurable.
She was told it was life-threatening and major surgery was required immediately.
Undeterred she put off the surgery and competed in Port Macquarie in a bid to secure a place at the Worlds. As it turned out, she suffered cramps and finished in seventh place: not good enough to qualify.
Surgery then became the priority before three months’ recovery time. By all accounts she was lucky to be alive.
Sure enough though, after the allotted surgery recovery period the mother of two was back training in the hope of reaching the holy grail of events – qualifying for the Triathlon World Championships.
On May 3 Ntasha finally qualified for Hawaii on the seventh attempt.
Under normal circumstances the story would effectively finish there but not in the case of Ntasha.
Upon qualifying, she realised that more than hard training lay ahead. As a self-funded triathlete with a husband, two children and a small design and architectural drafting business, the enormity of the expense of actually taking part in the race in Hawaii started to become apparent.
Was she about to fall short of reaching her dream because she couldn’t afford it after all she had been through?
She then set about raising funds, but was finding it overwhelming.
A chance encounter though has turned her fortunes around just when the whole campaign was about to be derailed. While at her local post office in Weston Creek, Ntasha started talking to one of the staff, a man by the name of Tom Griffiths.
Upon finding out about her plight he offered her $500 to get her on her way. Ntasha says she burst into tears such was the enormity of the generous gesture in the context of her journey to achieve this long-held dream. Tom later upped it to $1000.
Since then Tom has been rallying Canberra business people. He organised a fundraising night and has delivered Ntasha a great source of encouragement.
At this stage she has raised around half the $12,000 she needs to make it to the world titles next month.
Applying the same determination required to qualify in the first place, she remains eternally optimistic of reaching her goal.
No matter how she fares in Hawaii, to get to the start line will have been a monumental achievement in itself and Ntasha’s story is one that should be used to inspire us all.