Team 220: Joshua Hilliard

Colin Levitch caught up with former Team 220 athlete and certified Navy Clearance diver Josh Hilliard to talk about his time with 220

Focused and driven, Josh Hilliard isn’t your typical age group triathlete. He doesn’t sit behind a desk all day and try to fit in a training session before and after work. He doesn’t have a gym membership, or wear a tie; instead he is a Navy Clearance Diver.

His office is underwater and the pile of work on his desk could be anything from maritime tactical operations, to underwater sea mine location and removal.

From a young age Hilliard knew he was destined for the military and after a few close calls with serious injury playing football, he decided it was time to hang up his boots and try something new. Not being a person who can just go to the gym and train for the sake of training, Hilliard needed something new to keep him fit for the military.

“A mate of mine who I was working with said to me ‘If I help you get a bike why don’t you give triathlon a try?’ he says. “I thought to myself; I can run ok, I have a background in swimming, why not?’ It gives me something to compete in, it keeps me fit and I don’t have to get squashed by big rugby players.”

After months of training Hilliard signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie. Despite a less than perfect run leg Hilliard had discovered a new passion, and since then has not looked back.

Out on a training course with at an undisclosed location, Clearance Diver Hilliard brought a 220 Triathlon magazine along so he would have something to read in his down time. While flipping through the pages he stumbled upon a page about joining Team 220.

“Prior to being selected for team 220, my training had no structure. I would just get up and go for a ride, run, or swim. I had no idea about periodisation or anything like that,” explains Hilliard. “The other big thing going into Team 220 was my weight. I was about 93kg and built like a back rower, too big for a triathlete. Having access to a nutritionist I lost 10kg safely. “

Team 220 gave the military man a taste of what it was like to live the lifestyle of a triathlete. The biggest problem he faced now was the instability of living the military life. “I missed a few races that I had paid and booked for because all of the sudden I had to go somewhere,” explains Hilliard.

Not wanting to give up on the Navy for good, Hilliard approached his superiors with a proposition, “I wanted to go on leave for a while and see how I go just focusing on triathlon.

“It’s a new a military, they are big on that holistic approach to the person,” he says. “My superiors realised that triathlon was something that I wanted to peruse and they know when I come back I will be a better soldier, because I will be fitter and more focused. So my plan is to race and train as much as a can for the next couple of years, until I run out of money.”

Now on extended leave Hilliard has been able to fully focus on his triathlon career, and it has paid off. Heading off to London Hilliard represented Australia in the ITU Age Group Olympic Distance World Championships. Finishing 16th (20-24) with a time of 1:52:21

If you would like to be a part of the 2014 Team 220, visit our Facebook page and click on the Team 220 button to apply.