Recently I had the privilege of travelling with the South Australian State Triathlon Team to the first round of the Australian Junior Series. This series has literally the best junior triathletes racing against each other in Australia. The racing is furiously fast and it’s extremely hard to even qualify. During the weekend I took many photos but this one stands out for me, not because it’s an especially good photo, but because of the story behind this moment.
Running at the front of this photo is Declan Gillard Martin. Declan is 15 years old and it’s not his first rodeo. He’s been racing at this level for a while now. Declan is a highly ranked South Australian Triathlete, but such is the quality of racing Nationally, Declan has never scored any National Points.
Now 12 months ago, while training for the National Series Declan was involved in a horrific bike accident while out training with his squad. Declan sustained multiple serious injuries and almost spent Christmas in Hospital. From this moment forward, Declan’s life and studies were changed dramatically. He is quite open that he is still recovering from this accident, and yet here we are a year later and he is back racing with the best junior triathletes in Australia. Declan went it to this event in typical Declan fashion. Positive and excited to race, but this masked an extremely difficult year, and for him to make it to the start line is a testament to the dedication and perseverance he possesses. Not content with just racing, Declan did so well that he qualified for the A final. For the uninitiated, this is a big deal.
For me, Declan’s story personifies what I do professionally. As the Executive Director of Triathlon South Australia, I believe in and promote Triathlon Australia’s message regarding the unifying moment of the start line. Like Declan, every person that takes to the start line of a Triathlon has their own story of how they got there. Their personal struggles, injuries, fears they may have overcome, time pressures, whatever…. everyone’s story is unique. Additionally, everyone’s performances will also be unique, but when every participant stands on the start line, it is in that moment that everyone’s story intersects. It is in that moment that every participant is a part of a community greater than themselves, who can all celebrate together the achievement of making it to the start line.
To Declan, hats off to you my friend. Your courage and determination are admirable. Thank you for continuing to find start lines.
To everyone else thinking about doing a Triathlon, I say make 2017 your year. Come and find your start line, and when you’re ready, tell us your story and let us celebrate it.
Executive Director Triathlon SA