Meet Jacob Krayem (11), Tesfa Nethery (14) and Sean Toogood (14). Each excelling at their individual sports; this trio is currently the youngest group signed-up to tackle the Townsville Triathlon Festival’s inaugural Olympic Distance team event, competing against adults from all over Australia.
Jacob is the swimmer, Tesfa is the runner and Sean is the cyclist. They have competed together once before, and that was at last year’s festival in the much shorter Enticer event. Jacob and Tesfa knew each from Townsville Grammar School, but they only meet Sean — a Ryan Catholic College student — for the first time that morning.
“It’s drawing Australia’s best age group racers to the region, which is great because we are used to travelling down south, but now we get to compete on our own turf” – Jaret Grant
To date, the boys have excelled in racing. Coming sixth last year in their first event, Jacob, who is also skilled at soccer with his father being chairman of the Northern Fury, is currently training for the Queensland Primary Schools Soccer Championships in Roma in July, the Queensland State Age Swimming Championships in Brisbane in December, and is honing his open water skills to prepare for the upcoming triathlon. Tesfa is training for the Queensland Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in Toowoomba in July; while Sean, one of Townsville’s most promising young road cyclists, is building his endurance for the Gold Fever Le Tour in August in Charters Towers — an event he has won the past two years in his age category.
Since first competing together last year, these young guns have become good mates and are looking forward to the new challenge in July this year; one that Townsville Triathlon Festival race director Jaret Grant says they have every chance of prevailing over the ‘big boys’.
“This will be a huge step up for these young boys and I’m sure they will be very competitive,” Jaret says. “Having the new Olympic Distance teams race means this event will attract better runners, swimmers and riders from all over Australia. The individual Olympic Distance race will enable triathletes to qualify for the national championships [the festival forms Race 1 of the 2014/15 Olympic Distance National Qualifying Age Group Series].
“It’s drawing Australia’s best age group racers to the region, which is great because we are used to travelling down south, but now we get to compete on our own turf.”
It’s estimated that, of the 1800 participants, a quarter will be from interstate, offering plenty of fresh competition for local triathletes.
While the boys aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves, saying they’ll just be working to keep up with the 100 or so other competitors in their team’s category; Jacob’s mum Vicky Krayem laughs when asked if they are competitive: “Oh yeah… they’re racers.” She adds that triathlons are great for kids and young competitors to tackle as they offer a broad range of challenges and lessons.
“The lovely thing about triathlons is that they can do it as a team at this age, and in future do it as individuals,” Vicky says. “They gain a lot of experience in handling different situations.”
While the traditional length teams event is still 400m swim, 16km ride, 4km run, the new TP Human Capital Olympic Distance teams race comprises a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run.
The Townsville Triathlon Festival is on from July 12-13 on The Strand. For more information or to see what other events are scheduled, visit www.townsvilletrifestival.org.au.
Update: Jacob, Sean and Tesfa finished second in their category. Fantastic result and well done! We know who to keep our eyes on in the future…