Young triathletes excel at TSS champs


Last Tuesday was the annual Tasman Secondary Schools Triathlon Championships, which saw students from all over the region running, cycling and swimming their way around Rabbit Island.

It was a successful day for Nayland college, especially in the U14 Girls. In the team event, Emilia Thorn, Issy Thorn and Emer Ruane came first, while Jasmin Patel came first in the individual event. In fact, Jasmin’s time was good enough that she would have won the U16 Girls as well.

The U16 Girls team of Lois Breukel, Brooke Gabb and Jess Scott came fourth in their division, winning a cycle helmet in the process. International student Jelmer Dee Zee came fourth in the U19 Boys division.

The triathlon saw the students negotiate a 3km run, a 9km bike ride and then a 400m swim in the sea.

Jasmin Patel’s victory in the U14 individual section was no fluke, as the 13 year old has become somewhat of a veteran when it comes to successfully competing in long distance events. In fact, she also recently competed in the 12km Kaiteriteri Gold distance running event, where she was not only the U18 winner, she was the second fastest female competitor in the whole event.

Despite her obvious fitness, Jasmin still found the triathlon difficult at times, especially the swim in the choppy waters of Rabbit Island.

“I like doing the three different races, but swimming is definitely the hardest part for me,” Jasmin said. “I hadn’t done any training, (in swimming) until last year in early January and February. I haven’t done any since, so I found that quite hard.” 

Jasmin said her approach to competing in triathlons was based more around perseverance than strategy.

“I  always think I am going to reserve a bit of energy at the beginning,” she said. “But usually when I go, I just start really hard and then by the end I am really tired. I just go as fast as I can all the way through usually.”

Jasmin credited her participation in the Institute of Sport programme at Nayland College as helpful in building up strength to go with her fitness.

“(Being part of the IOS has) made me a lot stronger. I used to do a lot of runs and just things like ripper rugby. But now, I’m doing training like push-ups, and more sort of physical stuff that has made me a lot stronger which has been a lot of help,” Jasmin said.

The winning under 14 team, made up of runner Emilia Thorn, cyclist Issy Thorn, and swimmer Emer Ruane, were surprised at their victory due to their relative inexperience competing in triathlons.

“We hadn’t done any training or practice or anything, we just kind of went for it,” Issy said. “We surprised ourselves a lot. We weren’t expecting to win.”

Issy said the girls formed a team because Issy’s sister Emilia was originally going to do it on her own. Emilia asked Issy and Emer to join. They thought it sounded like fun so decided to get involved. Taking this opportunity certainly paid off.

“It felt good to win,” Issy said. “We might try it again next year.”

By Duncan McKinlay