Young Athlete from Trinidad races Elite for Canada
I was born and raised in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of culture best known for its Carnival, SteeI pan, cricket and “liming”. I come from an athletic family: whether I liked it or not, sport was a critical part of my everyday life and being sedentary was simply not an option in our household. My mum and both my brothers have competed in the Olympics in track and swimming respectively and I grew up surrounded by a culture of dedication, persistence, discipline and athleticism. As a result, my sporting background has been diverse. I swam from an early age (admittedly I didn’t love it back then). I was passionate about, and competed regionally in equestrian for many years. When an Aunt introduced me to cycling, I absolutely loved it. She also took me on my first “run” which was six miles long and from there I went on to run a half marathon within weeks. I came to Vancouver Island to attend the University of Victoria in 2013 and naturally gravitated toward sport: I wanting something novel and challenging and found rowing. It was a love-hate relationship which eventually brought me to triathlon and my amazing coach Lance Watson.
Triathlon for me is this incredible sport that brings together diversity in movement, training and connects me with amazing like-minded people. I’d initially started the sport to get a taste of what it was all about and thanks to Lance, I’m absolutely hooked. It’s a sport that’s allowed me to grow as an individual, I’m always challenged and there is always something to improve upon. I’ve been working with Coach Lance for two years now and every expectation I had for myself has been surpassed. I am now working towards racing at an elite level. Lance has provided me with fun programs, an amazing support network and training opportunities that are second to none. This environment has expedited my development and ultimately allowing me to strive for new and exciting goals. LifeSport is a culture of excellence.
On my journey I’ve had the opportunity to race within the province, even winning a race or two! My first time racing an Olympic distance race was at the Saunders Subaru Vancouver event. I went in blissfully naïve and curious to see how I’d fair in a longer distance and at the end of the day I ended up winning! I couldn’t believe it. It came down to the run, and there was my mum, encouraging my success as she ran back and forth giving me technical feedback and splits on how far behind the second female was. With the knowledge that the gap was closing, I had my best run of the season that day. There’s something to be said for doing all of the planned work, trusting the training, and having no expectations. I’ve noticed recently that I become my own worst enemy as I’m becoming wiser to the challenges that are ahead of me.
This year was my first experience traveling, training and racing in a new environment as I returned to Trinidad and Tobago to race our National Championships. It was my biggest and most significant race yet. I was pretty nervous about how it would all play out and thanks to Lance’s support and preparation I was able to toe the start line as prepared as possible. This particular race included two laps of a sea swim, eight laps of five kilometers with four hill efforts per lap on the bike (thirty-two hills), followed by a two lap run on the same five-kilometer course. All this was in thirty-three-degree heat and ninety percent humidity. I had my work cut out for me. I had a fellow athlete topple over onto me as he came out onto the bike course. Luckily, I managed to unclip and get a foot out before I, too, fell to the ground. Further into the race, I was right behind another athlete who took a corner a little too aggressively resulting in them skating across the tarmac. The run baked me, and this summoned my inner demons who kept begging me to stop. I can safely say that I did my best under those circumstances and I kept one foot in front the other. On reflection, it's those moments that I live for: the ones where every part of me wants to stop but I keep going. The feeling of relief when I crossed the finish line simply can’t be described. All in all, it was a fun event, a great learning experience and, the cherry on top was placing second. Despite not being the ideal race, it has left me hungry for more and sharpened my drive to improve. I can’t wait for the challenges ahead. Onwards and upwards.
Written by LifeSport athlete: Alex Bovell