Good racing in Mauritius over the weekend. Oscar who is still 16 was 9th in the Elite men with a strong swim-bike in the front pack and a solid run considering his lack of race experience and the fast bike sprints on each lap. Kate did great to lead out the swim and bike to finish 2nd in her first ITU elite race. Both are great role models for all developing HK triathletes and prove that time trials are not relevant for good results and should not be used to prevent athletes racing. Would be good to see them getting some funding next time round as they both paid 100% of their trip and achieved some of the best results HK triathlon ever has.
Well done to all the athletes who raced over the weekend in the numerous events around HK. Lots of fast racing and PBs achieved.
Hugo Ward Mens 1500m - 1st Place - 4.10
Oscar Coggins Mens 1500m - 4th Place - 4.16
Mahan Malhotra Mens 1500m - 20th Place - 4.32
Mark Russell Mens 1500m - 33rd Place - 4.43
Rafe Man Mens 1500m - 41st - 4.52
Jasper Coggins Mens 1500m - 56th Place - 5.36
Glen Cox Mens 400m - 16th Place - 52.41
Mario Tremblay Mens 400m - 62nd Place - 1.06
Cade Wright Womens 1500m - 5th Place - 5.15
Camden Richter Womens 1500m - 6th Place - 5.16
Jade Saunders Womens 1500m - 17th Place - 5.48
Oscar Wong - Cookie Run 5km - 1st Place
Swiss Duangthip - Panasonic 3km - 1st Place Boys 11-12 Years
Zoe Yip - Hysan Run 1st Overall Girls
Pauline Courret - Hysan Run 2nd overall Girls
Great Results from everyone at Duathlon Race 2 at Science Park. Everyone put in a good effort and had a good time on the new course. Was great to see so many families taking part. Well done everyone.
Wim Hekstra 45-49 - 1st
Oscar Coggins Elite Junior - 1st
James Tan Elite Junior - 3rd
Lynda Coggins Female 50-54 - 1st
Nick Tan Male 50-54 - 13th
Henry Warren Male Open - 1st
Olaf Kasten Male Veteran - 1st
Hugo Ward Male Junior - 1st
Frans Otten Elite Junior - 8th
Kate Rutherford Female - 1st
Camden Richter Female Elite junior - 1st
Mark Russel Male Youth Open - 6th
Cade Wright Female Youth Open - 2nd
Teo Kasten Male 2002 - 1st
Boet Van Den Heuvel Male 2003 - 8th
Tallulah Wright Female 2003 - 2nd
Natalia Kasten Female 2001 - 2nd
Beauella Purcell Female 2004 - 6th
Roxy Wright Female 2005 - 3rd
Pauline Courret Female 2005 - 4th
Jules Vaucelle Male 2005 - 11th
Ellabelle Purcell Female 2007 - 1st
Mick Van Den Heuvel Male 2007 - 8th
Marie Van Den Heuvel Female 2007 - 8th
Some good results over the weekend at the first official athletics meet of the year. Oscar Coggins won the Mens open 1500m and Camden Richter was 2nd in the Womens Open. Both in strong times considering the training phase they are currently in.
Also impressed to see some of the younger kids getting involved considering that there were no age categories in this competition and they had to race with HKs top athletes. Zoe Yip also competed in a 4KM race for charity on Sunday and won the youth category. Well done to all and see you at race 2.
Full results here http://hkaaa.com/en/comp_news_details.php?id=27&news_id=80
Mens 100m - Arthur Liu 14.32
Mens 800m - Mahan Malhotra 2.13
Mens 1500m - Oscar Coggins 4.10, Mahan Malhotra 4.42, Clement Beylier 5.37
Womens 1500m - Camden Rickter 5.02, Jade Saunders 5.42, Victoire Beylier 5.57
Congrats to those who raced DIV 1 School athletics over the past week. Outstanding performances from Matt Tan who broke the 1500m and 3000m B grade records. His brother James also had a great meet with a 2nd and 3rd place in the 5km and 1500m A grade. Jasmine Drew picked up two silvers in the 800m and 1500m for the C grade girls and Miles W, Swiss D and Oscar Wong were top 8 in their events. All athletes are on our YDP programme. Unfortunately most of our other programme athletes are not in D1 schools so didn't get to race.
Lessons Learnt on Camp with the Worlds Best Coach and his athletes
We set off to sunny Gran Canaria for a 10 day camp with arguably the worlds best triathlon coach and his squad of champion athletes. Everyone, including me was slightly nervous as we were keen to make out that HK athletes are stronger than they are sometimes perceived.
Due to the high turnover of families leaving HK its extremely difficult to build a squad that retains older athlete role models, who inevitably inspire potential athletes to achieve what it takes to be a professional. This has meant that the squad has always been very young and in need of professional athletes to inspire them, something not available to them in HK. One of my main aims of the camp was to inspire our athletes, give them confidence and get them thinking on a more competitive level.
Day 1 and lesson 1.
Staying calm in a difficult situation. Missed flight connection and lost luggage meant showing up with no equipment. Very frustrating and slightly embarrassing. Putting a positive spin on it we agreed as a group that staying calm in a difficult situation was a good skill to have and we all spontaneously laughed. When this happens in future the athletes will be prepared, confident and know what steps to take. Learning great life skills already.
Lesson 2 - Weighing in with the pros
The biggest reason we were there was of course for the training. To experience what Olympians and World champions do in training on a weekly basis, guided by a world champion coach. Current Olympic champion Nicola Spirig, Current ITU long distance World Champ Mary-Beth Ellis as well as Junior World Champ Lucas Verzbicas were all in attendance. Training with them gave massive confidence to our guys and pushed them faster than they have ever trained before. It made the athletes realise the amount of hard training done by top level athletes and that there are no complaints when tough sets are handed out. Oscar, Cricket and Henry performed extremely well and took their training to a new level. It was also great to have the input of the other trisutto coaches and to learn about training in their countries.
Lesson 3 - Unconventional training practices
There were also some unconventional ideas to experience which may not have strict scientific reasoning but obviously have their place and are backed up with years of results.
Lesson 4 - Independance outside of training
Whilst on camp other vital skills that the athletes learn on camp with no parents or helpers around include shopping, traveling, cooking, health, cleaning, time management, budgeting and recovering to name a few. Each day an athlete took turns to buy and cook healthy meals under my nutritional guidance. Cricket, Henry and Oscar are all very capable in this respect, and took most of these duties in their stride without the need of much input from me. In HK basic skills are rarely taught but are essential ones in becoming a good athlete.
Lesson 5. Coach-athlete trust
The message from this camp for performances coaches is that almost anyone can prescribe a training session or plan. When two coaches set the same programme and one gets better results than the other, that is the true art of coaching and where Brett is a step above the rest. It is the interaction of the coach and athlete and how the athlete is guided through the many obstacles to the top of the podium by squeezing out an extra few % that makes the difference. Many of these obstacles have nothing at all to do with what sessions are given and often the training becomes inconsequential. None of the athletes on the camp questioned the coach no matter what the session was, there was 100% trust to get the best results. Brett's squad produces continual results whereas other squads "have hit and miss" years, whether they be private or National federations.
On a local level our 26 squad has consistently produced youth and junior athletes over the past few years by applying many of the same training principles to our individual athletes as Brett does. We also pride ourselves on having a high level of coach-athlete interaction, something I see very few other coaches able or willing to do. Standing on the track shouting with everyone doing the same set isn’t good coaching. Letting your athletes know they are all individually important to your squad is essential for development and they will reward you with hard work if you apply this philosophy to you coaching.
Lesson 6. They have what it takes
Our athletes will return home very fit, having gained a huge amount of experience, and with a renewed steeled confidence. These key ingredients are going to be invaluable to them, whether it helps turn them into champions or just very rounded individuals. These experiences and skills will certainly make them very hard to beat this season.
By the end of the camp Brett gave us all a lecture that 2020 Olympics is a very realistic goal for Cricket and Oscar based on their work ethic and ability. A plan has been put into place to get them there through the ITU rankings. The training pathway in our opinion is the easy part as they are both on a great programme and are beginning to think like winners. It will be politics, social pressures and all the difficulties of living in HK that make it that much harder. Priorities have to be put in place and sacrifices made. Henry also demonstrated that he should be racing ITU for the depleted HK team and performed better than he has in a while.
See you all on the start line and thanks to Brett for letting us join the group.
TALENT ID VIDEO - Series 2Part 2 of a great series on Talent ID. This is a fantastic presentation and some of the concepts can be taken on board in sports like rugby in Hk, who have a reasonable development programme.
However, for triathlon we are so far behind with very little talent ID and an inadequate setup to nurture potential athletes, it's pointless to think about the content of the video just yet. Three very simple concepts that can be applied to triathlon that would make an overwhelming improvement.
1. Allow the best athletes to race and make it easy for them to do so. Make selections based on results. This will produce role models and make triathlon an attractive sport to be involved in.
2. Encourage the clubs to develop potential athletes with incentives and do not force those athletes away from the club once they have reached a good level. Currently no clubs in HK are focusing on producing potential Elite athletes.
3. Set up good talent ID protocols and recruit from schools and other sports clubs such as swimming.
This will only work if the first two points are achieved or no athlete or parent will want to be involved.
Let's hope this year something can be done. With only 3 senior athletes currently on the national squad something must be done ASAP. It will take a majority of the trihk committee to take action before any changes can be implemented.
As most who follow my career know I am aiming to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. My ‘Road to Rio’ and the races I do are completely dictated by the qualification criteria set out by the ITU back in 2014. It consists of this document, which sets out how this can be done. To know what I need to do I have to know this document like the back of my hand and it has basically been my bible for the last year and a half! So I will explain the different ways off winning spots for you country and also in there will be how I plan to attack it. I will talk primarily about the men’s event as that is the one I will be racing in! But most of what I write applies to both men and women anyway. Qualification ends on May 15th 2016, so all qualifying will be concluded by this date.
First off, there isn’t really a way to properly simplify it. It is possibly one of the most complicated qualification processes of all the Olympic Games sports.
There are a few things that I should point out before I begin, which go a little way to explain why the process is so complicated. Number 1 reason is that there are only 55 places up for grabs on the Olympic start line. This is less than World Champs Grand Final (70), and World Triathlon Series (65), so this already makes it harder to make the line. Another point is that there a MAXIMUM of 3 places per nation, unlike WTS where there are up to 6 (plus 1 for a host nation). This makes it very tough for the bigger nations that have many top athletes, who may miss out even though they are amongst the best in the world. This is why top countries have to make their own selection polices so tough – take a look at the British Triathlon one here as an example!
These factors lead to the Olympic triathlon start line being one of the most elite and difficult to attain in the Games. There are not really any complete ‘wild cards’ in triathlon as in other events like swimming, which made Eric “The Eel” Moussambani famous at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games when he raced the 100m freestyle in a time of 1.52.72! A video of the race can be seen here. This throws up the question of whether the Olympics should be more selective in other events too, but that is another argument. For the triathlon this stops countries just throwing athletes in just because they have an allocated slot, and keeps the field relatively honest. Countries have to fight to win the slots to even be able to choose someone to then go on and race in that spot.
So onto trying to simplifying this thing…! First you need to know that the majority of the Olympic slots for each country are not based on times, they are based on various rankings. These are the “World Triathlon Series Ranking”, the “ITU Points List” (Effectively the ‘World Ranking’) and the “Olympic Qualification List”. The very minimum criteria for anyone wanting to compete in the Olympic triathlon is to be in the top-140 in one of these rankings – this is almost the ‘quality control’ aspect of the criteria so that the field consists of athletes who have shown an ‘elite’ standard of performance.
5 places are then allocated to countries of the winners of the 5 continental qualification event champions. These are now set out (and some already done) as: the European Games (won by a GB athlete), the Pan-American Games (won by a Mexican athlete), Oceania Champs (19-20 March 2016), African Champs (20 March 2016) and finally Asian Champs, which is mine that will be on the 29th April 2016. So for example in my case, if I were to win the Asian Championships next year then I will qualify a spot for Jordan. And then it is down to my Olympic Committee to accept the spot and then HOPEFULLY grant it to me!
The next 3 places are then chosen from the top 3 finishers at the “ITU World Olympic Qualification Event”, which in the case this year was the Rio Test Event on 2nd August. The top three men were from Spain, France and South Africa. So these three nations now have one place each on the line.
At this point you might be wondering why I am not using the names of the athletes winning these places. That is because, technically it doesn’t really matter who wins the places as they are then allocated to the respective National Olympic Committee, who then can decide one who goes with their own internal qualification criteria, like in the case of GB, which I have already shown.
After that there are 39 places allocated to the highest ranked athletes on the Olympic Qualification List, which is the most important ranking in the process, as the majority of places will come from this list. Points for this list come exclusively from the Rio Test Event, WTS races, World Cups and Continental Champs only. This makes the list hard to progress in as the points only come from top-level competition. This one is hard to keep track of as the allocations constantly change as people’s ranking change. So until the date of the end of qualification for the 2 years, you cannot 100% predict which countries will be awarded these places.
This also goes for the next 5 places, which are chosen from the ITU points list. These used to be called “New Flag” places but this was a bad representation of the place as it made people thing that it was a spot granted to countries who had not previously competed in the Olympics, but this is not the case. These are the last places allocated by the athletes’ performances and even though are a little easier than the Olympic Qualification (OQ) places, they can be just as difficult to predict as only one person from each continent can win them. And these are only allocated to countries who do not have any athletes who have a place for the OQ list. In the case of Europe, this place is extremely hard to win as the standard there is so incredibly high. This is the place that I will be aiming for. I was originally aiming to qualify myself a place via the OQ List but due to the list of unfortunate calamities I experienced this season, I ended up too far behind on points so I have had to change my plan and work more on my ITU Points List ranking.
One place is granted to host nation, which will obviously be Brazil. If they qualify via one of the other methods however then the spot will be reallocated to the next best athlete on the OQ List. This is to make sure that the host nation has representation in their own event.
The last two places on the line are then allocated by an IOC committee. These are called “Triapartite Commission Invitation Places” and are chosen completely at the discretion of the committee. These are what you might call ‘wild card’ places but in triathlon athletes still must be of a certain standard to be chosen. Should the committee believe that there is no-one befitting of these places then the places will be reallocated, again, to the OQ list athletes.
So that’s it! It is probably still clear as mud to most but I have been pouring over this document for many years (during the London 2012 cycle too) and have come to understand it quite well. What it does do though is make the racing in the last 2 years before the Games very exciting. People have won and lost places on the very last day of qualifying in the past. With such a big reward to making it, it tends to throw up some amazing stories.
So next time you watch a WTS race on the TV in the run up to the end of qualifying in the next 6 months, try to think past the podium and about the guys finishing in places 4th-40th who may have just won themselves a spot on the Olympic start line. One of them might be me...!
I coach a particular athlete who is very extrinsically motivated. That is, he/she is mainly motivated to train for social, material, or competitive outcomes rather than for the love of the sport itself and its participation benefits. Examples can include family pressure, winning cash/prizes/sponsorship, and winning events. When interviewing them the following reasons were apparent as the key motivators. 1. National representation, 2. Recognition from friends and family, 3. Gaining sponsors. For me personally extrinsic motivation is very powerful and when used in the correct way can significantly improve performance. This is especially apparent in elite athletes or those on the pathway to becoming elite. However, there have been some suggestions it does have drawbacks and can be detrimental when relied on too much.
Over the past few months, this athlete has been prevented from racing for his/her country. With the main motivator now gone the athlete is on a crossroads of giving up triathlon. This must be extremely frustrating for them as it is for me, the coach. The athlete spends many hours each week training with no clear objective or pathway from the federation, as to how to race internationally. Not only that but the athletes ability to make money has also been diminished. This is a prime example of someone perhaps being too extrinsically motivated, in that they are either competing at a high level or not at all. If the athlete was a little more balanced from where they drew their motivation, we would perhaps not be in this situation. However, if he/she were racing elsewhere in the world this scenario would never have occurred, so it could be argued a heavy reliance on extrinsic motivators can be a good strategy in a fair environment.
In any case it would be a disaster for the sport to lose someone for these reasons, especially since we are dealing with a talented individual and a country with very bad development. Knowing the individuals responsible, who are preventing this athlete from racing, may retire or quit at some point, it is important to try and keep this athlete motivated by switching focus in the short term. Since I was the one who encouraged the athlete to take up triathlon to begin with, I feel responsible to put them back on track and get them involved once more.
Using intrinsic factors to motivate this athlete is now my focus to put the athlete in more control of their emotions and bring back the love of the sport. These include, giving the athlete a coaching responsibility, introducing them to new skills and race distances, giving them more positive reinforcement during sessions, and setting new goals that are actually achievable. I think long term this athlete will be a more rounded person and is likely to keep up the sport if we can change their focus point and motivation quickly. It could also improve training performance and persistence as well as keep emotions positive. We also hope the rules change quickly to allow this athlete to race and we will be able to rethink our strategy, incorporating both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards into this athletes training and race plan.
If you have had a similar experience I would love to hear from you and offer any advice I can.