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Stanley Says - Netherlands, Triathlon & Representing Ireland

Last weekend was an extremely active and competitive one for my eldest son James who was competing in an intense triathlon tournament in the Netherlands.  We travelled to the small Dutch town of Holten where James took part in the annual Holten ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup which consists of a lengthy 750m swim in a man-made lake, 20km cycle which is over two laps and up a hill twice - which is surprisingly, extremely difficult considering Holland is supposed to be flat - and finally a 5km run through the town-centre which is very entertaining for the spectators.

James was one of two junior men representing Ireland, and fantastically placed 15th which was his second best result this year.  His impressive swim time of 8:40 was the second fastest swim of the day including the senior’s race - his bike time was 30:25 and run time was 17:32 – of which the run was the most difficult of the races due to the terrain changing at times to be off-road - making it very difficult and painful for the legs.   On the whole James did very well, and was very happy with his swim which put him in a good position for a good result, but with a very poor bike, James said: “It was the end of any good result and the run was making the best of a bad situation”.

James started his triathlon journey at the very young age of 12 but has always had a keen interest in sport from a young age taking his competitiveness in sport from myself. At just 17 years old, James is a dedicated sportsman and prepares for each race with many hours of training in advance, with a normal training week consisting of 14 hours of swimming, 6 hours of running and 10 hours of cycling.  Besides training hard James keeps himself motivated and says: “The thought of wanting to win a future race is very motivating to me and can get me out to train even in the worst conditions”, he considers “finishing is the best part of competing, whether it is training or a race the best feeling is when you have done everything you planned to do.” 

James has competed in triathlon races across Europe including Portugal, Switzerland and most recently in the Netherlands but considers his favourite triathlon so far to be the Quarteira Junior European Cup in Portugal where he competed last April, which was an excellent race and seen him finish fantastically in 6th place.  Although he considers swimming to be his favourite sport and the one he does best at, he also says “the first 100 metres of the swim is the most challenging as everyone is sprinting as hard as they can and you usually end up getting punched in the face and kicked in the stomach a few times”. 

It is to be expected that the atmosphere at any sporting event can be intense and triathlon tournaments are no different, James says:  “Usually leading up to the race everyone appears to be happy and chatty, but under the surface everyone is eyeing each other up to see who looks to be in the best shape and if they’re racing well.  During the race it’s very tense and everyone is shouting at each other to go faster on the bike so the groups behind don’t catch up but then after the race there is usually a party and everyone is in high-spirits - most of the athletes stay in a holiday village just outside the town which makes it easy to meet new people”.

James will be competing in the National Championships in two weeks and then the Lisburn Triathlon on August 7th which I’m sure he’ll do very well in both.  As for future plans, the very ambitious James would like to represent Ireland at the Olympics and Northern Ireland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and is considering the USA for university – it’s safe to say - watch this space.

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