Extraordinary athlete one of sport's 'true gentlemen'

CHRISTIAN Thiess had almost laser-like focus when it came to setting and reaching sporting goals, including competing in an Ironman competition.

It was that dedication and driven nature which the Hervey Bay sporting community paid tribute to after the 78-year-old was killed in a freak cycling crash on Tuesday afternoon.

The cyclist was riding on Torquay Tce about 5.30pm on Tuesday when he collided with a parked ute.

Paramedics spent half an hour trying to revive the triathlete at the scene but were unsuccessful.

Hervey Bay Triathlon Club president Nick Downes yesterday spoke about Christian's dedication to the sport.

"He had very clear goals about what he wanted to do," Mr Downes said.

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He said Christian often trained on his own but would join the club for events.

Christian had competed in a Hervey Bay triathlon as recently as January, coming fourth in the men's over-50 category.

Former Chronicle sports editor Richard Harvey described him as a "true gentleman".

"He was a legend and was always a pleasure to deal with," Mr Harvey said.

Christian Thiess with the three medals he won in the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast.
Christian Thiess with the three medals he won in the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast. Alistair Brightman H

"He had so much to tell and share from his extraordinary life."

Bev Hawkins shared her memories of Christian online.

"This man was so fit and a gentleman, he used to go down for a swim," she said.

Triathlon is not the only sport Christian was dedicated to.

The keen swimmer, formerly from Germany and Romania, was banned from competing in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games for fears he would defect to the West.

That did not deter him from sport, with Christian bringing home 10 swimming medals at the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast in 2014.

"When I am 81, I want to do the Hawaiian Ironman," he told the Chronicle at the time.

It was during the 1972 Munich Olympics while coaching the Romania equestrian team that he defected to Germany.

From there he moved to New Zealand and retired to Hervey Bay in 2002.

He has three children who live in Germany.

Police are investigating if a medical condition or environmental factors contributed to the crash.