There’s been a lot written recently about Gill Fullen’s battle with Cancer, her comeback and most recently her victory at Outlaw Half by various media. Therefore, I felt it’s only right that as her Coach I now should write down my own thoughts.
Gill’s journey is one that is very special for so many reasons without her recent battles. She is an incredible athlete at Age Group level and one that you could argue ‘what if?’ or ‘if only’ she found the sport earlier.
Gills a multiple Champion at Age Group level, and without being disrespectful to other competitors, she finds it easy as there is nothing Gill likes to do more than race hard. That’s not saying others don’t, it’s just Gill does have those rare qualities only the best seem to have at the higher end of the sport.
When Gill came to me to coach her I had one condition.
‘You take yourself out of your comfort zone and walk away from all the easy wins you’ve had. ‘WHAT?’ was the look I got from Gill.
I could tell Gill had never had anyone say this to her before and I went on, ‘COME ON you want to find that extra 10%, don’t you? And see where you could really go in this sport?’.
‘Yes, your right, but I’m too old’, she said.
I told her age is just a number, and now we do things my way.
She looked at me with shock, and said ‘We’ll see, so many have tried before you’.
It was then I knew I had a fighter on my hands.
This was the start of a great relationship between Gill and I, we are very straight with each other. We sat down over a year ago and set a plan, the plan was to move away from the Age Group mind-set, and step up to another level and test yourself again. The plan was wins at Outlaws, amongst others, but what wasn’t in the plan was the big ‘C’… Yes Cancer.
When Gill told me, if I’m honest my reaction perhaps wasn’t normal. I didn’t feel sorry for Gill, I don’t think she needed that, she needed someone to say, ‘Well come on, we’ll fight this together enough’. People around you say the right things, so I’m going to be objective and challenging just the way Gill likes things to be.
Gill responded in a way only a real fighter would. Days/weeks and months past and the motivation was amazing, she never gave up and got stronger with motivation. Yes of course there were downs, but everyone is human; Gill responded to each challenge with grit and in such a touching way. she is gifted with not only talent, but in true spirit and determination and this carried through the whole time, which for many was and is inspiring.
Typical of Gill the texts started flowing back in, asking me about training, telling me what she had done and what she was doing, each week and month she was doing a bit more but not without setbacks. In true Gill fashion, she kept on pushing and became stronger and stronger, sending me texts “this isn’t going to beat me.” Continuously hounding me to start training properly so we could get back to our original plan, and when those texts started to proceed about races for the future I thought Gill was now ready to plan for the 2017 season ahead.
Gill’s determination and courage to beat off one of the biggest battles of her life is one that deserves enormous respect. When most would have crumbled, Gill stepped up and looked at Cancer right in the eye and challenged back, trading punches that was a survival technique, not knowing if one of those thrown could be the last.
As serious as it sounds, we are talking about the fact that Gill is one special human to be able to show the way and fight for life, not just in the sport she loves so much. Triathlon has given Gill the chance to down her true character.
Gill is a very talented, and gifted in many areas, but is yet to become the complete athlete. Yes, Gill can still improve, age for me is just a number and if you’re good enough then why not give it your best shot.
Perry Agass has been a professional coach for over 10 years and has worked with some of the best coaches and athletes in the world. He is a passionate, motivated and very thorough with excellent results.
Perry regularly holds camps in Cyprus for all levels of athletes.