Mike Myers is the Triathlon England North West Academy Coach, based in Wigan. He recently wrote a guest blog about the North West athletes who qualified to go to the European Youth Championships in Hungary to represent GB. Having just returned, Mike has written another guest blog to let us know how they got on!
In the UK the Youth triathlon age group is 15-16, in Europe it is 15-17. This year the competition was on 3 days with individual qualifiers, finals and then a mixed relay competition giving around 90 minutes of tough international racing over the 3 days. A total of 8 athletes went to Hungary to represent GB and the North West made up 50% of the GB Team with Matt Willis (16), Dan Slater (16) and Marcus Dey (15) and Olivia Green (16).
We arrived in the small Hungarian city Tiszaujvaros for 3 training days before the event to acclimatise to heat and to build a racing strategy.
The event consisted of male and female qualifying races on Saturday (500m swim / 13k ride / 3.2k run) and then the finals on Monday. Our team of 4 boys and 4 girls performed very well in the run up showing great commitment and adapting to the heat and learning how to hydrate properly.
The qualifying races were very tactical as there were 9 qualifiers from each of three heats, placing 27 athletes in the final on Monday. In the male qualifiers, Matt Willis, Dan Slater and Marcus Dey, all from the NW Academy, qualified comfortably. Marcus was brought down in the lead bike group having exited the water in 2nd place - he straightened his handlebars, remounted, time trialled the rest of the bike and put in a solid run to finish in 7th place. In the female qualifiers, Olivia Green also qualified comfortably, placing all the NW athletes into the finals on Monday.
In the female finals, Olivia exited the swim mid pack and joined the 3rd bike pack. She ran well to record 8th fastest run of the day and finished in 19th position overall in her first European Championships!
In the male finals, Matt exited the water in 14th place made the 2nd bike pack with a 10 second gap which merged with front group and became one pack entering T2. It quickly settled to a group of 8 on the run which gradually became 2 with Matt forcing the pace. Racing shoulder to shoulder, both athletes surged to drop each other with Matt eventually finishing in 2nd in a sprint finish to take the Silver medal against Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca ( who is one year older, and has finshed 4th at Lisbon, 1st at Quarteira ETU Junior Cup races).
Marcus was 5th out of the water and stayed with the lead bike group. He raced smart and strong to finish in 14th place. Dan exited the water in the back 3rd, getting trapped in the swim, he made the 3rd bike group. Unfortunately, the rest of the group weren’t strong enough to help him bridge across leaving him too much to do on the run to be in contention and doing all the work on the front of the bike group. Despite this he ran well, making his way through the field to finish in 13th place recording the 6th fastest run split of the day.
We traveled back to the UK yesterday with 8 very happy athletes all of whom gave their best throughout the trip having had probably the best experience of their lives to date and all with very bright futures in triathlon.
The Triathlon England Talent Squad Head Coach Rick Velati who led the trip and has done 33 such trips/camps in the past was genuinely impressed with them all saying that it is one of the best group of young athletes that he has had the pleasure to work with.
There is no let-up for the NW Academy. Matt is competing in the English Schools track 3000m in Gateshead on Saturday and the others, along with 6 other Academy Members are at Eton Dorney for a British Super Series Triathlon event.
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Extremely proud head coach
TENW Regional Academy