This year, during September, five of our young leaders, Naomi, Nana, Korede, Miles and Derron achieved massive success by completing the Blenheim Triathlon. With the majority only being able to swim at beginner level, the odds were stacked against them as they only had four weeks to prepare for the big day.
The race itself consists of a 400m open water swim, a 13.3km cycle and 2.9km run. It’s fair to say that 4 weeks is a very small amount of time to prepare a beginner swimmer for a 400m open water swim, let alone a full triathlon. Preparation time for a beginner is usually around a minimum of 9 weeks (to properly compete), so it’s safe to say that the chances of our athletes being ready were extremely slim.
For Naomi, Nana, Korede, Miles and Derron, who are a group of competitive and ambitious young people, the idea of doing a triathlon was exciting. It was another opportunity to prove to themselves and show their community the importance of pushing boundaries. The main barrier in this whole challenge was swimming, particularly as it had to be done in open water. Running and cycling were skills that the group were definitely more comfortable in. Between them they had competed in local and national competitions for handball, football and martial arts. This was a group of fit and active young people who were up for the challenge.
“Swimming with me has always been a love hate relationship. My experience with swimming was non existent, because both my parents can't swim and no one else in my family can swim so it was something we never really did.”
Zeniece Hall, Head of Women in Sport at BADU organised everything from team training, kit, equipment, partners and attendance on the day of the Blenheim Triathlon for the four weeks in the lead up to the event. She ensured that running, cycling and swimming were consistently trained by all five athletes to make sure they were as ready as possible. Coach Manni, physiotherapist and Nike running coach was brought on board to take care of their running and cycling training as well as rest and recovery.
Swimming presented the biggest challenge in the beginning as it fueled doubt not only from the athletes themselves but others around them. Normally, advising inexperienced swimmers to take on a triathlon in four weeks wouldn’t be sensible, just because of how challenging open water swimming can be, let alone the 400m distance. However, all five as well as Zeniece and their swimming coach Wayne Owide overlooked this doubt and focused on nothing but improvement. Day by day, each athlete became more confident in the water, eventually transitioning to training in open water at the West Reservoir Centre. Their constant effort and commitment to training is what made these athletes ready. Though it was the most nerve racking part leading up to the race, in the end, all five agreed that it was the most exhilarating part of the race. This just goes to show that there is the most to gain from the biggest challenges in life. The support that Wayne and Zeniece gave these athletes really allowed them to flourish come race day. Everyone involved with the triathlon deserves to be championed, we are so proud of everything they achieved.