The Triathlon: London Calling
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of triathlons. The triathlon was born in San Diego, which is where I grew up. Friday, I went down to see one of the races in the ITU World Triathlon championship series. The race was important because the best female triathletes would be competing and because the final spot on the United States Olympic team for the women’s triathlon at the 2012 London Games would be determined by the race.
So yes, Bachelor fans, even though neither Matt Grant nor Shayne Lamas were at the race, in a very real sense for these athletes, “London [was] Calling.”
I also went to to the race to support and cheer for Sarah Haskins. Sarah competed in the 2008 Beijing Games for the United States and was trying to qualify for her second straight Olympics. Even though I had never met Sarah before, she is a friend of a friend and I have been a fan of Sarah’s since I got into triathlons about a year and a half ago (Sarah has an awesome blog with race recaps that can be found here…).
I had a bit of a drive to get to the race. You would think that I would know my way around San Diego, but I missed a turn and ended up stuck on the wrong side of Mission Bay. I had to backtrack and go all the way around just as the race was about to start!
Then I hit traffic and was afraid that I would miss a huge chunk of the race. These athletes are so fast that I didn’t think I could risk waiting for traffic to clear or hitting even more road closures due to the event. My GPS told me that I was 2 miles or so from the starting line…that was good enough for me! I parked down a side street and started hoofing it.
I figured a good brisk 2 mile jog was doable–especially following my Ironman ordeal of last week. Plus I figured that 2 miles was nothing compared to what these athletes were about to do! My 2 mile or so jog ended up being a good workout and I showed up just in time to see the athletes start lap 2 of the swim.
The race itself was exciting. Sarah was great. She was second out of the water (as far as I could tell) and was in the lead group of riders on the bike. She pushed and pushed during the bike portion of the run–unwilling to simply hold back or play it safe.
Sarah made several attacks on the bike but was unable to get any other riders to break away with her. The bike portion was tense because Sarah was locked in a duel with Laura Bennett–another top American–for the final spot on the U.S. team. Only one of them would make the team and both of them were neck and neck during the bike.
The bike portion was 25 miles–8 laps–and the riders would come whizzing through the transition area where they were cheered on by the fans in the grandstands.
In the end, Sarah finished less than a minute behind Laura Bennett. She would not receive the final slot fo the U.S. Ollympic team. But Sarah’s post-race reaction showed that she had the true heart of a champion.
Regardless of whether she came in first or last in this race or the next, Sarah Haskins has the heart of a champion. She never quit during race and she didn’t “save anything for the swim back.” I hope that Sarah still gets the chance to be a part of the Olympic team. But whether she goes “London Calling” or not, she embodies the Olympic ideals and represents what is best and most virtuous (and increasingly rare!) about sports these days. What a pleasure to be able to rub shoulders (if ever so briefly) with someone like that!
Good luck Sarah! We’re still cheering for you!
For more on this story, click here.