At 16 years old, Llori Sharpe is a Jamaican Triathlon National Championships silver medalist — and she doesn’t even have a dedicated training group.
Sharpe is one of 12 athletes from Central and South America who came together last week for a Junior CAMTRI Training Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
CAMTRI — recognized by the International Triathlon Union as the Continental Confederation for North, South and Central America — organized the camp as an opportunity for developmental triathletes from across the CAMTRI region to train as a group while receiving elite-level coaching.
The athletes, each of whom received an invitation to the camp from their National Federations, spent the week refining their swim, bike and run technique, learning about nutrition and recovery, and getting to know each other.
CAMTRI has offered more camps for elite and developmental triathletes this season than ever before, with the goal of increasing the quantity and quality of athletes representing CAMTRI nations in triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“When I heard that I was invited, I was happy and somewhat surprised,” Sharpe said. “It’s very surreal. The facilities are amazing, and I’m able train in a world-class environment. When an athlete trains by themselves, they can lose motivation and quit the sport, missing the opportunity to go to the Olympics and win a medal. I think it’s great that we have the option to train with other people, stay motivated and see where we can go.”
The camps are especially beneficial for youth, junior and U-23 athletes to learn social and networking skills in an international environment, said Javier Mon Fernández, Continental Development Coordinator for CAMTRI.
“I think one of the biggest things is language,” said Mon Fernández, who served as head coach and technical advisor for the Mexican Federation for the past two Olympic cycles prior to starting his work with CAMTRI. “If they want to be elite high performance athletes, they need to speak at least English, so this is one of their first opportunities. In addition, the environment — the quiet, focused, high performance style of life, with good food and good rest — is very important for the development athletes to see.”
USA Triathlon helped coordinate the athletes’ use of the training and boarding facilities at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach Hector Torres served as the camp’s head coach and coordinator. USA Triathlon staff also assisted with equipment and apparel for the athletes in the lead-up to and during the camp.
For many of the participants, triathlon is not a thriving sport in their home countries as it is in the U.S. Resources such as elite training groups, quality equipment and training facilities are not always easy to come by.
“I’ve learned so much,” said Sam Vandergjeugt, 17, of Costa Rica. “The trainers have been really kind to us. The facilities are awesome, and we have access to technologies that normally we don’t see in Costa Rica.”
One-on-one coaching is not a given in the athletes’ daily training routines either, as technique-focused practices proved especially helpful.
“The coaches are helping me a lot. I’m improving my technical running skills and my swim stroke,” said Kimberly Lopez, 15, from Guatemala. “It’s beneficial to work with other athletes, since they can help me and I can help them improve. This has been a great opportunity — you have to take advantage of opportunities like this.”
Last week’s camp participants may be competitors next time they cross paths, be it at the ITU Junior World Championships in the Netherlands in September or at a CAMTRI American Cup in the future.
But for one week in Colorado Springs, they were teammates, training partners, friends — and Olympic hopefuls.
“When we train in our own countries, we work with the same trainer and teammates. When we travel to a training camp like this, we learn new methodologies of training and we learn new things from other coaches,” Vandergjeugt said. “We meet people, and maybe in the future if I need to go to Colombia or America for a competition, it’s easier to contact them and make connections.”
For more information about CAMTRI, visit americas.triathlon.org.
CAMTRI is the governing body for the Olympic sport of triathlon across the Americas. CAMTRI’s mission is to create, support and improve sustainable triathlon programs that develop the quality and fairness of athletes, coaches, technical officers and events in the Americas, as well as the professionalism of the National Federations. Its goal is to increase the quantity and quality of athletes representing CAMTRI nations in triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. CAMTRI supports the development of triathlon by empowering National Federations and Regions through a set of strategic operations among all areas of the sport, including increasing the number of high-quality elite events throughout the continent. CAMTRI is recognized by the ITU as the Continental Confederation for North and South America.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).