With opportunities like USA Triathlon Skills Camps, the junior elite race circuit and kids races throughout the country, it is no surprise that the number of youth members is growing faster than any other age group.
Three years ago, I stepped on the start line for my first race at the age of 14. Looking around at the start line and transition area, I didn’t see any other kids who were my age. After finishing the 800-meter swim, 16-mile bike and 5-kilometer run, I was hooked. At the end of that summer, I bought myself a road bike to replace the mountain bike I had used at that first race and signed up for my next triathlon.
I started training with different triathletes in my area, but they were all adults. One day, I went to my local running shop to pick up some new running sneakers. I told the gentleman who was helping me out that I was a triathlete. Upon hearing this, his face lit up and he started telling me about his racing experiences. I told him that I didn’t know any triathletes who were my age and he responded by giving me the business card of someone who was the president of YoungTri, an organization that enables youth and junior triathletes to connect online.
She was a 19-year-old freshman at Harvard University and founded the organization two years earlier as a junior in high school. I started writing articles for YoungTri and, through that, got to meet people from across the nation. Last year, I even got to meet another triathlete from New Jersey whom I’ve become great friends with.
Through YoungTri and social media, I have also come across an up-and-coming bike company that creates incredible custom bikes and give sponsorships to young triathletes. After following them online, I got the incredible opportunity to be a member of Team Fusion. Since then, I have gotten to befriend even more young triathletes.
I’ve met many of them at races as well as at USA Junior Elite Skills Camp, which I have done for the past two years. It is amazing how, in an age of social media, I went from seeing nobody my age at local sprint triathlons to having a whole network of young triathlete friends. With new social media and young triathlon opportunities, I am excited to see how youth and junior triathlon will progress in the upcoming years!
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