Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Triathlon - So you want to be the next Helen Jenkins?

Triathlon coach Chris Goulden met Helen Tucker when she was just 15. His daughter was a member of the same swim club as Helen and it was Chris that persuaded her to give triathlon a go.
He coached her for three years, helping her to develop the training, skills and techniques that have gone some way to her becoming the athlete she is now.
In her first year, she made tremendous progress – becoming GB Youth Champion and European Small Nations Champion. Today of course, she can boast that she has competed at an Olympics and has won the World Championships.

Back then I was National Coach for Wales and I was asked to put together a team to compete at the European Youth Challenge event in Hungary. I was struggling for team members so I asked Helen if she’d give it a try and she said yes.
I knew she could swim but then we had half a dozen trial sessions and she really stood out. She is such an aerobic animal and seemed to just effortlessly and efficiently develop her skills.
She is such an unassuming person and doesn’t shout about her herself. So polite and well-mannered as well but with an inner determination to succeed.
As with a lot of the younger triathletes she had some setbacks and quite a few tumbles from the bike. But it didn’t phase her, she’s quite a tough cookie.
At the age of 15, being quite a talented swimmer, Helen had the chance to try something different and lucky for us it was triathlon. Timing is everything as they say.
Triathlon seems to be really growing in popularity and participation at the moment. In the mid 80’s when I started it was quite a niche sport. We’ve seen things like marathon running have a boom but now sports like triathlon are seeing it.
I speak to many people and they like having the chance to tackle the three different disciplines, from the short sprint events up to Ironman.
The pride in seeing Helen develop into the World Class athlete that she is today is hugely satisfying and will remain with me all my life. It’s very difficult to put into words, but it’s been a most worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Triathlon has provided me with superb memories, great friends, kept me fit and provided challenges completely different to those you’d come across in normal working experiences.