Trinidad and Tobago’s Carifta triathlon team held their final training session yesterday as preparations ended for their debut showing at the 2017 Carifta Triathlon and Aquathlon Championships which takes off in Barbados next weekend.
The athletes took part in a 2 1/2 hour session on the Diego Martin Highway under the watchful eyes of their coaches.
Sports Minister Darryl Smith stopped by to offer his words of encouragement to the youngsters while national triathlon champion Jenna Ross gave a pep talk with advice on nutrition and training. Ross urged the young athletes to “learn to suffer well” if they intend to go far as triathletes.
National coach Angelo Clark, who also heads the Giants Triathlon and Mountain Bike Riding Club, said the national team has been training since June and believes they are ready to give a solid showing in their first time on this stage.
“We just tried to build on their fitness, endurance, strength and technical skills. We’ve been able to grow together as a team and accomplish a lot in this short space of time and we’re hoping for a good show.”
What has he learned about the athletes in the past three months?
“They’re a nice group of kids. They are all drawn together by this sport and ‘look at them, all the smiles and such’. They’ve all bonded. Some of them train with different coaches but when we’re here they’ve just formed a bond,” he pointed out.
Clarke outlined the goals of his coaching staff for the Championships, saying learning is more important than winning this year.
“This is our first Carifta triathlon team, we’re going out there to see what’s the competition and do our best. It’s going to be a learning experience and we’re going to come back and work on what we have to work on,” he said.
Karen Araujo, Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Triathlon Federation (TTTF), said she was confident in the team and is looking forward to positive results.
“We think they’re going to do fairly well. A lot of these guys are on the top of their game, especially when they go to Nationals at Grenada and Barbados, they come home with all of the trophies,” she said.
She believes their participation at the Championships this coming weekend has already lifted the profile of their organisation and attracted more people to the sport.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s lifted already and we haven’t left Trinidad as yet. The mere fact that these children are donning their national outfits and their friends and peers are seeing them, it has increased participation at our schools series which is where these guys have come from.
They’ve realised by taking part in our school series and it culminating in our National Triathlon in June, they have an opportunity to don the colours of Trinidad and Tobago and be a part of the national team.”
Araujo said the future of the sport is bright with their three-part school series which starts in November with a series in each term. The first term features an aquathlon (run/swim/run), a duathlon (run/ride/run) in the second school term and a triathlon (swim/ride/run) for the finale.
The TTTF secretary said funding continues to be a challenge for the Federation because training for a triathlon involves equipment and coaching for three different disciplines.
She heaped praises on parents of the national athltes who have each funded their child’s airfare, accommodation, meals and race fees for the Championships.
She also extended thanks to Republic Bank, First Citizens, Massy, Unicomer and Unit Trust to name a few of their main sponsors.