“Smokin’ Joe” is known as one of the greats of triathlon – his steadfast dedication to integrity in the sport and connection with many other athletes makes him an ideal poster child for the tight-knit triathlon community. With his own impressive professional resume, Gambles has also had influence in the success of other triathletes, including coaching pro triathlete Heather Jackson to her podium victory in Kona last year.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always loved playing sport and thought that I would like to be a professional sportsperson. I tried heaps of different things including cricket, soccer and basketball and had a dream of playing cricket for Australia-probably like most kids!
Once I started to become reasonably successful at a number or sports, my interest in triathlon increased and here I am today- a bit different from cricket but still a professional sportsperson and I consider myself very lucky to have achieved my childhood dream even though the road has not always been easy!
What is on your mind as you prepare for Kona?
Kona is at the forefront of my mind throughout the year and so my goal is to get there fit and healthy and mentally ready to dig deeper than I have all season.
What are three of your travel essentials?
I have to make sure that I have packed my Bose noise cancelling headphones, coffee beans, Aero press and hand grinder and my Ipad with downloaded lightweight TV shows-mainly comedy- to keep me relaxed before the race.
What do you see as your biggest strength going into Kona?
After two years of injury which severely reduced my running ability , I am very happy to be going into Kona knowing that I am injury free and I am running to my potential. My confidence was buoyed in June when I came 2nd at the Cairns Ironman, running a race best 2.44 marathon.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
My wife is a secret Johnny Cash fan so I recently gave her one of his albums. We are both huge music fans and we are training up our 6 month old baby Arlo to be one too!
What makes Kona different from any other race?
Kona is unique in many ways. The heat and humidity are indescribable. The crowd support is amazing and of course the pressure of competing in the most famous sporting event in the world is huge. Certainly a race not to be missed in the triathlon world.
What is your favorite Rudy Project piece of equipment?
The Wing 57 is the best, most comfortable and aero helmet that I have used. It’s fantastic.
What do you love about the triathlon community?
The triathlon community is full of friendly, motivated people who have mutual respect for each other whether you are a professional completing an Ironman in under 8 hours or an age grouper struggling over the line just in time to beat the 17 hour deadline. I have made many very good friends throughout the world of triathlon and I value those connections very much.
What would make this a perfect season for you?
So far I have had a really good season especially after a couple of not so good ones but to place in the top 10 in Kona would make this a perfect one. I obviously aim to give it my best shot but, at Kona, anything can happen!
I don’t have many days off although I plan to have a lot after Kona! Any spare time I have, I love to spend it with my wife, baby son and our dog Cooper-my 3 favorite people!