‘When I was about 11 or 12, I watched my dad do a half-ironman at Busselton and I did the kids triathlon,’ the northern suburbs resident said.
‘In that race, I did breaststroke and I was too scared to put my head under the water. I rode my mum’s bike, which was five times too big for me and I couldn’t touch the ground, but I have always been good at running, so I focused on that.’
Since those humble beginnings, Vernon, now 22, has become one of WA’s best triathletes.
Earlier this year, she won the Putrajaya Ironman event in Kuala Lumpur and in doing so qualified for the World Championships in Canada, where she finished 14th in the 20-24 age bracket late last month.
A nurse at Princess Margaret Hospital, Vernon said she trained between 15 and 20 hours a week to prepare for competitions, including the Busselton Ironman, where she has come third twice.