Switch ‘off the Cuff’ triggered series bid
WITHOUT the Sunshine Coast family that took him in and treated him like a son, Luke Cuff might not be making his Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series debut this weekend.
The Gold Coast product credited stability of his new life in Mooloolaba with helping him achieve the dream of lining up against his childhood heroes at Western Australia's Smith's Beach this Saturday.
Dejected and wanting out of his junior club on the Gold Coast, the talented 20-year-old admitted to lacking motivation last year before answering a call from Mooloolaba's Michael King that spurred his new life on the Sunshine Coast.
"A few things happened and I wasn't really too much into training anymore and Kingy just reached out to me and gave me the opportunity to train up here," the born-and-bred Gold Coaster said.
He left his childhood mates and moved into a Mooloolaba house with butcher John Raymond, his two daughters Tiarrn, 20, and Kirriena, 17, and the family's two staffies. With Tiarrn also on King's Mooloolaba team and pushing for selection in the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series, Cuff found the perfect environment to rediscover his best form.
His arrival also helped Tiarrn, who had twice tried to qualify for the series before finally breaking through this year. Cuff and Tiarrn were the only two Sunshine Coast athletes to qualify through this year's trials, a fact John puts down to his home change.
"DAD thinks it's the food but I think it's just worked out for both of us," Tiarrn said. "He's up at 4.30am every morning and I'm up at 4.37am. We just motivated each other to do everything we needed to do and do the right thing.
"Not slipping into bad habits like having junk food in the house or drinking or that sort of stuff."
In John, Cuff found a father figure to mentor him through the ups and downs of the strenuous qualification bid. "He's a really open guy and he's taken me in like a father so it's been really good for me," Cuff said. "It's such a good environment especially because Tiarrn's a female.
"I think if I was living with one of the guys I am racing with, it would probably constantly be competing. I would be wondering what time he was going to bed or what he was doing on a Saturday night.
"Whereas Tiarrn and I relax and have a life and especially with John and Kirriena there, it's a few movie nights now and then. He makes massive lasagnes. It's really cool."
The pair achieved their childhood dreams by making the series. Now Cuff believes anything is possible. "It didn't really hit me until I was standing at the pool deck a year ago with all these guys like Matt Poole, Josh Minogue, Hayden White," he said.
"I was looking up at them and I was just a little grommet and I was looking up at pretty much my heroes racing on the TV in the Kellogg's for years.
"The other day I said to Kingy I've actually been here at the Sunny Coast one year today and I'm standing on the pool deck one year later and I'm in the Kellogg's.
"It's like a dream come true for me and I can't wait to race on the weekend."