Callum Millward: the triathlete making a name for himself in Ironman

WE TALK to Callum Millward about being a triathlete in the sport-loving nation of New Zealand and his more recent experiences of Ironman races.

Callum Millward

Callum Millward is a professional triathlete from New Zealand.

CALLUM MILLWARD was involved in triathlon from a very early age, ten in fact, and his interest in the sport continued into his teenage years and beyond.


After taking a break at university he thew himself back into the sport after completing his degree and hasn’t looked back. Today he races as a pro and in this exclusive interview talks about his biggest successes in the sport and where in the world it’s taken him.


When did you first get into triathlon and who encouraged you to give the sport a go?

I had my first taste as a ten-year-old, growing up in New Zealand we had a hugely successful kids nationwide triathlon series called Weetbixs Kiwi Kids Triathlon. It consists of individual or teams events, and it’s seriously popular. I was the school champion for ten-year-old boys cross country and got asked to run in a team with some school mates. We ventured to Hamilton city, which was a lot bigger than my home town of Hawkes Bay, and got absolutely towled up but the bigger city athletes. I really enjoyed the multidiscipline concept of triathlon and was keen to explore it, but next time racing as an individual. 

Had you always been a sporty person and what other sports were you involved in when you were young?

New Zealand is a very sporty nation, and tends to punch above its weight on the sporting stage. We love our All Blacks, the Americas Cup sailers, and generally any athletes who do their best on the world stage. When our teams compete on the world stage or at a world cup for example, it holds the nation’s attention and is all over the media. It’s a big part of our culture.
Naturally I started out playing rugby and got to a reasonable regional level. I also ran and swam competitively from an early age, mostly to blow off energy, but increasingly because I thrived on competition. I tried a bit of everything and my parents were always very encouraging. 
Callum Millward

Callum has raced around the world and when he was younger spent a lot of time competing in Europe.

What were some of your earliest triathlon successes?

I never achieved anything of much significance despite feeling like I ‘trained’ for triathlon throughout my high school years. When I went to University, I took three years off any sport and enjoyed uni life and started surfing and playing Xbox.
After I graduated, I decided it was now or never, and I packed my bags as a 21 year old and moved to the Gold Coast of Australia to train with a squad of triathletes. I was on the steep part of the learning curve and essentially became a sponge over the two years I spent on the coast. My coach at the time introduced me into world cup racing. I was so far out of my depth, but I guess he had faith in my ability. Eventually I had success in my first U23 Oceania Championship’s where I placed 2nd and auto qualified for the ITU World Championships in 2006. This also qualified me for funding for the New Zealand Academy of sport, therefore I moved back to NZ to make the most of the coaches and facilities on offer.

At which discipline of triathlon do you excel at and in which do you have to work the hardest?

It’s a difficult question to answer as most athletes strengths and weaknesses change throughout their career. I’ve found I need to keep up a minimum weekly volume on my swimming or this suffers. Initially my run was my strength, however, this tends to take a back set to biking now as a lot of the racing is won or lost on the bike currently. It’s still necessary to have a world class run, but you need the horse power on the bike to ensure you’re starting the run in the best possible position. The best athletes are still solid across the board, so Im continually looking for ways to lift my swim, bike and run.

Where in the world has the sport taken you and what have been your greatest triumphs?

I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world, and plenty of destinations that I would never have considered if there weren’t a race there. In my 20s when I race racing ITU, this was largely European based. So I managed to see a good portion of Europe. Now, racing the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman series, its predominately North American racing for me with a splattering of racing in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. My proudest moment would have been in 2012, my first year of long distance racing, where I had a sprint finish for first at Ironman 70.3 Boise. 
Callum Millward

Callum pictured with his partner, who is a constant support.

Tell us more about the phenomenal success you’ve had in Ironman races?

I wouldn’t say I’ve had phenomenal success, well compared to some athletes like the Brownlees who are unbelievably dominant! I’ve had my share of great results that I am proud of, but as a professional athlete and competitive person, its an ongoing process that never rests. I’m still chasing success, still chasing podiums and wins. For me, a big part of triathlon is conquering myself and getting the best out of myself. Right now that’s through triathlon. Post triathlon, that will be in a professional career. 
Callum Millward

In August Callum will race in the Ironman 70.3 Cebu in the Philippines

What are you currently training for and what does the rest of the year and beyond have in store in terms of races and other competitions?

In three-and-a-half weeks I’ll be racing Ironman 70.3 Cebu in the Phillipines. Five weeks after that, Ill be racing on my doorstep at Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast. Then I’ll head stateside and spend a month in Boulder, CO and build up to Ironman Louisville in Kentucky. I’ll close out the year with Ironman 70.3 Taupo in New Zealand. That’s the tentative schedule, so its all go, plenty of travel coming up. I’m fortunate enough to share most of this with my partner who also races as a pro, Alise Selsmark.

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