Dispatch: Olympic Hopefuls

Might one of these youngsters someday grace an Olympic triathlon start line? Or will their interests turn toward other pursuits?

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“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that features pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com.

They may be relative rookies in the triathlon ranks, but the hundreds of children who turned up to the IronKids race in Boulder last Saturday are clearly passionate competitors. Might one of these youngsters someday grace an Olympic triathlon start line? Or will their interests turn toward other pursuits? It’s tough to say at this stage, though one thing is sure – they all enjoy a day filled with swim, bike and run fun. I spoke with two sets of siblings post-race to get their take on the triathlon scene.

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For eight-year-old twins Henry and Annika Nicholson, IronKids was their first ever open water swim triathlon (both had previously participated in shorter pool swim triathlons at their local Rec Center). The IronKids race also marked their first multi-mile endurance event. The talented twosome, smiling broadly and taking the media attention in stride, shared a few details about their day:

Henry: “I liked swimming in the lake. It was different.”

Annika: “I liked being with a group. I wasn’t just on my own and I didn’t feel like I was last. And I felt like I crushed it, because I tried my best.”

The twins’ father, Dan Nicholson, a local entrepreneur and owner of Bowhaus Dog Daycare & Boarding in Erie, Colo., was preparing to compete in his first Ironman 70.3 race the next day. I asked Henry and Annika if they had any advice for their dad:

Annika: “Try not to get lost in the swim.”

Henry:  “Push yourself. And try to stay in the middle in the swim. It kind of splits into two. You want to be right there, sort of ahead and sort of behind so you don’t get kicked in the face.”

I wondered if they had gleaned any lessons specifically from the run, as triathlon’s final leg is often the toughest:

Henry: “It was easy for me.”

Annika: “Actually my legs felt like bricks when I was biking! I walked the run.”

Waxing philosophic, Henry shared some final thoughts following his IronKids debut:

Henry: “One more thing: Ironman, IronKids. Same thing!”

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Sisters Jamo (Jamieson) and Camo (Camryn) Legh are no strangers to triathlon – their father is Australian pro Chris Legh. And while seven-year-old Jamo has already amassed a collection of race medals, Saturday’s event marked three-year-old Camo’s first foray to the start line. Big sister Jamo, after completing her own race, ran encouragingly alongside her younger sibling, helping Camo reach the finish.

I asked Jamo to break down her race-day performance:

Jamo: “In the swim, when I put my foot down it didn’t touch the bottom! At first on the bike ride I was scared that my chain was going to fall off. But it didn’t, so that was good. On the run I was out of breath, but I wasn’t slowing down because I wanted to get up to the finish line and then slow down.”

I noticed that Jamo ran in a pair of especially sparkly shoes, and had to ask about them:

Jamo: “My ballet flats? Oh, they’re like my secret weapon!”

Jamo, who turned seven in March, celebrated a belated birthday sleepover just three nights before the race, staying up until 2:00 am with her giggling girlfriends. I asked her whether, in hindsight, the late night was a wise idea during race week:

Jamo: “Not really! But we just couldn’t get to sleep!”

An excited Camo, her pre-race playtime lip gloss still firmly in place, was a bit difficult to pin down for an interview following her first race experience. I did manage to ask what she enjoyed most about the day:

Camo: “Umm…mee mwa fwiends!”

Which I took to mean, “Seeing my friends!”, as with that the tiny tot hurled herself into my arms for a giant hug.

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