Inductee - Loretta Harrop

Loretta Harrop

Loretta Harrop


Loretta Harrop is the 2004 Olympic triathlon silver-medallist and 1999 world triathlon champion.

Loretta was a state and national champion swimmer in high school but gave up the sport after her mother Dianne passed away in 1993 from a brain tumour because it was an activity they'd always done together. As a teenager she attended Cavendish Road State High School and in 2007 had sports house Harrop House named after her and her siblings.

A few years later, Loretta's younger brother Luke introduced her to triathlon and she soon realised that, as a strong swimmer and runner, she was well suited to the event. She bought a second-hand bicycle and entered her first race. Not knowing bikes had gears, she rode in the same gear all the way and came 42nd.

Loretta was hooked though. The next day she started serious training to become a triathlete and within three years she had won the world title at the 1999 Montreal World Championships. It was a win that saw her named as the 1999 Queensland Sportsperson of the Year.

Loretta competed at the first Olympic triathlon at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, placing fifth. The following year she took out the Brisbane Goodwill Games triathlon title, backing up her Goodwill Games breakthrough victory of 1998 in New York.

The shock hit-and-run death of her brother Luke while training with a group of triathletes in January 2002, rocked- Loretta to her core, but in fighting dedication, her motivation intensified and she won most races she competeted in that tragic year.

A stress fracture in her foot however forced her to pull out of the run leg at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, a moment she describes as her lowest in the sport.

Two years later, after running second at the 2004 World Championships in Madiera, Loretta was the first female Australian athlete to qualify for the Athens Olympic team.

After leading for almost the entire two hours of the Olympic triathlon, she entered the home straight first only to be pipped at the post by Kate Allen, an Australian who had changed nationality to compete as an Austrian.

Many thought Loretta would be shattered, but she described the result as "thrilling", revealing she never thought she had the race won. She was aehydrated, seeing stars and barely putting one foot in front of the other for the last kilometre, haunted by the thankfully un-realised vision of collapsing before the finish.

Retiring from elite competition in 2007, every April Loretta attends the annual Luke Harrop Memorial Triathlon on the Gold Coast. The fourteen-time World Cup winner and six-time Australian champion was inducted into the Australian Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2012.

Loretta also enjoys surfing and music and holds a black belt in karate. Her husband, Brad Jones, whom she met at high school, is a former AFL footballer.
Their son Hayden was born in 2006.