by Michal Swierczynski
Young athletes from Academies of Sport across the state travelled to Port Kembla today to compete in a slightly unconventional Illawarra Triathlon Club race, as part of the 2014 ClubsNSW Academy Games. Heavy rains and windy conditions led to the cancellation of the 500m swimming portion of the today’s event, putting pressure on our athletes to perform in the 4km run and 13km cycle.
Living up to the challenge, young athletes from a number of Academies competed against seasoned veterans in today’s all-ages event, taking three of the top five spots. First place went to local man Ben Bell, representing the Illawarra Triathlon Club.
Taking second place was Gus Franks from the Illawarra Academy of Sport. Jack Orr followed soon after, winning third place for the North Coast Academy of Sport. Local man Steve Newman took fourth place, trailed by young Isaac Hough from the North Coast Academy in fifth.
Event organisers were forced to cancel the swimming portion of today’s event, after reviewing the surf and finding it too choppy and dangerous. “This is the first time we’ve ever had to drop the swim,” said Das, event organiser and Vice President of the Illawarra Triathlon Club. “It was far too dangerous.”
Athletes were equally glad about the cancellation. Isaac Hough from the North Coast Academy described the surf conditions as “treacherous,” a sentiment shared by many of today’s competitors.
The slippery conditions on the track more than made up for the cancellation of the swim, with athletes taking extra care to avoid any potentially disastrous slips or falls. Despite these conditions, talented representatives from the North Coast, Illawarra and West Sydney Academies of Sport were able to triumph over the skill, age and experience of local competitors, taking some of the top spots in today’s race.
For those from the North Coast Academy, the victory was extra sweet. Travelling for the better part of a day, athletes from NSW’s regional north were eager to make their long journey worthwhile. “The bus trip was around 14 hours,” said Isaac Hough who travelled all the way from Tweed Heads to take part in today’s event. Winning second and third place amongst Academy athletes at the event, competitors from the North Coast Academy have every reason to celebrate on their long journey home.
With such a positive result, Academy athletes should be proud of their achievements in today’s race. Overcoming adverse conditions and storming past experienced competitors of all ages, our young Academy athletes took home some of the top spots in today’s challenging, competitive and unconventional triathlon.