With the help of the fabulous Brownlee brothers, triathlon is becoming a staple in the sporting calendar and the 17 international Youth and Junior medals and over 26,000 documented hours spent in training camps in 2016 highlights this rising participation from the youngest generations (Sport England, 2016). ‘TriStar’ triathlon series and clubs are popping up all over the world and races are starting to lower age limits to cater for this surge in popularity. The Brighton and Hove Triathlon has recently introduced junior and youth waves, so children as young as 13 are now eligible to compete.
I bet you’re thinking.. so what? Why should children get involved in triathlon? How is it beneficial?
There are a few different reasons why triathlon can be so beneficial for children and teenagers to get involved with. As a youngster, team sports are the most widely participated in due to ease of inclusion in school curriculums and the lower cost to parents. However, if team sports don’t suit a child for whatever reason, the individual nature of triathlon can be the perfect solution. When racing, the result is down to individual ability and effort, with nobody else to be relied upon.
Having said that, becoming involved in triathlons can also have extremely positive social effects. With the rise of participation, triathlon clubs are popping up everywhere with many including specific ‘TriStar’ teams. In fact, our local Brighton Tri Club take children on from 8 years old for an easy entry into triathlon. In order to maintain motivation, the social side of sport is key and therefore triathlon clubs are a brilliant way of being introduced to the sport whilst also making friends and having fun.
It is also essential to motivate youngsters to get active and sport is an excellent way of doing this. It’s an efficient means of releasing energy and most importantly, getting them off of technology and into the great outdoors! Learning discipline from a young age is a great life skill, as is using sport as a means of building confidence and igniting a sense of determination, ambition and accomplishment. As we all know, it’s extremely difficult to change fitness habits later in life, so we need to inspire them from a young age and they’ll never look back.
Furthermore, lots of children already take part in running and swimming at school, meaning the only extra training required is a cycle at the weekend. Why not make these rides a family activity? Many children involved in organised sport don’t get the opportunity to compete in more than one at a high level due to time constraints, so triathlon is the perfect solution. Since they are also likely to already be taking part in the three disciplines on an individual basis, triathlon doesn’t have to break the bank. If they own a pair of trainers, a swimming costume and a bicycle then voila, they’re TRI ready.
It’s also important that we dispel the myth that taking on a triathlon requires 3 x the amount of training. Youth and junior races use age-appropriate distances (13+ for our Super Sprint and 15+ to take part in our Sprint) and in actual fact by taking part in three disciplines, there is less likelihood of repetitive strain injuries due to the variety. Take advantage of the fact that in our digital world, children are never focused on just one thing and can multitask very successfully!
Youth and junior racing is a very manageable challenge and a stepping stone to the longer adult distances, should they wish to continue. The Brighton and Hove Triathlon is the perfect introduction to the world of triathlon, with youngsters competing on a very safe, closed-road course in a relaxed and supportive environment. With the Sport and Fitness Show running in tandem over the weekend, the support is phenomenal and there is fun to be had for the whole family. With a children’s Scootathlon for 4-8 year olds taking place on the Saturday, you can be sure that the entire family will be occupied.
So why not enter your children into the Brighton and Hove Triathlon and bring the whole family along to enjoy the weekend. Or even better, why not join your children and take part yourself? They’ll surprise you…they might even beat you!