There are very few experiences comparable to the sensation of arriving at your first race of the season in the sport of triathlon. For myself, and many of the parents and supporters involved with the NSW Triathlon Squads, it is beyond special to witness some of the most talented, hard working and charismatic junior athletes converge into one single space.
Despite having such a vast array of triathletes attending the Orange Triathlon Festival, the entire event ran extremely smoothly, seamlessly integrating primary school children who have barely been in the sport a year with testosterone fuelled young adults (u23s) halfway through university while on the verge of becoming professional athletes. Such a well organized and exciting weekend is a testament to the efforts of Mel Ashton, Mick Delamotte and the Orange Triathlon Club, just to name some of the many individuals who contributed to such a successful race.
For the more experienced athletes in the squad, a new, untested race venue is synonymous with both great excitement and jubilation, especially when a hilly, technical bike course rife with off camber hairpins barely wider than a footpath is included. Although there were multiple standout performers from the weekend, the races and clinics provided valuable learning experiences for all, and great preparation for the Runaway Bay Super Sprint weekend coming up in a few weeks’ time.
In the words of Coach Mick Delamotte, athletes were “exposed to the demands of competition” and asked to adapt to whatever situation they found themselves in, whether it be chasing a front pack on the bike, testing themselves against older and faster swimmers or improving their race specific skillset to better their performance. It was thus not surprising to witness so much healthy competition and rivalry during the weekend, along with a wealth of opportunities to learn, practice and utilize new skills amongst the stunning Orange countryside.
The moment I arrived at the race site Saturday morning, my doubts were put aside. The solo 4-hour drive from the outskirts of Sydney the night before was most definitely worth it. The abundance of opportunities to race with internationally competitive triathletes and the wealth of experienced coaches available to learn from was not taken for granted by anyone. The strong social bond between the members of the NSW Squad was noticeable to both myself and many of the parents and coaches, with large groups of athletes spending their time together between races, at mealtimes and even exploring some of the local tourist attractions on offer, including Mount Canabolas. Such a positive atmosphere amongst the NSW Squad will stand us in great stead for this summer, so with the triathlon season fast approaching, I wish you all the best of luck with your training, racing and travels.
Kieran Tall is an 18 year old Sydney-based NSW ITU Junior