Perhaps the most beneficial part of London hosting the Olympic Games last year was the awareness it raised of sports not normally able to compete with the financial and commercial power of football, Formula 1 and the like.
In particular, the inspiration drawn from Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee’s successes in triathlon could be seen in September when, a year on from the brothers’ gold and bronze medals, over one thousand competitors took part in the first Brownlee Triathlon competition.
While many viewers would have marvelled at the incredible stamina and perseverance shown by the Brownlee’s, the UEA Triathlon club would have been all too aware of the type of discipline required. After all, the club’s banner reads ‘Work harder. Be Better.’
Triathlon requires its competitors to cycle, run and swim over set distances. It may sound like the type of exercise carried out in a gruelling pre-season, but club committee member Humfrey Jeakins says only two attributes are required to succeed in the sport, “Energy and enthusiasm. Anyone can do triathlon. We hear a lot of comments like ‘I’m not fit enough to do tri’ or ‘I can’t swim well enough or commit enough time’. Each year we take on people who can’t really swim front crawl and train them up. Our training is designed to help people mentally as well as physically.”
While prospective students may be anxious of coming unstuck in one, or even two, of the areas of triathlon, Jeakins clarifies that no training sessions held by the club mwake attendance mandatory. “Generally, members attend a selection of our sessions, particularly the professionally coached ones in the pool and on the athletics track. There is no compulsion to attend a particular number, although, when there are limited places, we do run competitive selection to represent at BUCS races, but there are lots of opportunities to race or take part in events.”
Rarely does a day pass where a reluctant jogger can’t be seen on campus, but for those who thrive on the competitive nature of sport there are a wealth of events on offer via the club. Just a week ago the university was represented at the Wymondham 100mile cycling race and the Althorp Duathlon.
While some triathlon members are training for outside events such as Ironman Wales, Jeakins believes that the BUCS Sprint Triathlon is one of the most important events of the year. “It’s our big, mass participation event, that involves a 750m pool swim, a 25km bike ride and a 5km run. The event takes place in May and is something that we aim to get a lot of members involved in. It gives them the opportunity to take part in their first tri in a safe, supported and fun environment.”
According to Jeakins, triathlon is the “fastest growing mass participation sport” and, like most clubs, offers benefits that will serve you long after your UEA days have come to a close. It also promises to improve the many different attributes crucial to becoming a high achieving athlete. As one of the club’s other sayings goes, ‘It never gets easier, you just get faster.’