As many are starting to get Olympic fever, I am getting plenty of notes asking for my take, after the last series of ITU races. I thought it best to post a more important blog that makes me very satisfied. Here is a little story.
I was driving in St Moritz this week, and stopped at the pedestrian crossing. A little guy, about 8 to 10 years old, crossed with his school backpack and hat on. What struck me was that the hat was a Home Of Triathlon cap.
I parked the car and went into the Coop grocery store. In the first aisle was another student, also with the Home Of Triathlon black cap on, helping his mum with the shopping. It was bigger than he was, plus he was also wearing a Nicola Spirig Kids Cup shirt.
It struck me how proud these kids were to wear their Home Of Triathlon hat in public, a long way from any triathlon race. With the success of the Nicola Spirig Kids Cup race held annually in St Moritz, a Home Of Triathlon kids training program was started, partnering with St Moritz tourism, Ovaverva, and the Nicola Spirig Foundation. A fun opportunity for local kids to participate in swim, bike and run, with our Home Of Triathlon coach Semira Bontognali.
One swim, one bike and one run session each week. Nothing competitive, just an outlet for kids in the area to join in organised exercise. Our area has very few kids sporting activities other than organised skiing or ice hockey club in winter.
With these black caps popping up all over our little town, Semira pointed out that the squad has grown significantly and the kids attend all the sessions. When I commented that I see them wearing their caps all over town, nowhere near training just everyday situations, Semira pointed out that, 'they love being part of something, sutto, they even wear them to school.'
While our elite guys were away at the World Triathlon world cups, and WTS races, the Home Of Triathlon junior team were excited to do the 3 hour drive to Zurich to compete in their first ever race. A proper team road trip, that wasn't about competition, but participating in a fun day as a team. Winning was not part of the equation, just the joy of being part of something.
It gave me much satisfaction that coach Semira and Nicola are indeed making a difference by introducing exercise into these kids' lives. That made me just as proud as our elites that also competed that same weekend.
With Covid restrictions eased at the pool last week, we also saw the return of my age group athletes swimming in my squad with the champions. This is what makes triathlon unique, where all levels of performance can participate together.
Thank you coach Semira, and The Champ Nicola, as well as the many others that we don't hear of, but make this possible. This is what triathlon should be about.
Photo Credit: Coach Semira and World Triathlon