Triathlon is quite different from a lot of other sports in the way that one has to qualify to race the big races. In triathlon it is your ITU points that determine what races you can race, whether or not you can race World Champs and ultimately whether or not you qualify for the Olympic Games.
Starting out as a new triathlete you begin with zero ITU points. You need to get some if you ever want to compete internationally. You can do this by racing some local races that have ITU points available. Not only do you have to race well, but you have to finish within the top 40 and also within 5% of the winners time. This is quite a small margin. To be on the slow side, let’s say that the race winner finishes in 1h50 for an Olympic distance triathlon. Then 5% is 5:30. You would need to finish within 1:55.30 to get points.
Once you have some points you can consider trying to get onto the start list for a small European Cup event. You then contact your federation who let ITU know that you want to be considered for a start. Then depending on who else wants a start you might get onto the start list if you have enough points. At this race you will hopefully earn some more points, but it will be harder than the SA race as the competition is obviously a lot tougher.
Your next target would be a World Cup event which would again depend on your world ranking, number of points and the other guys who want to do the same event.
The next level is the World Championship Series. Only the top 60 ranked guys in the world get to race these events and the competition is extremely tough with often the top 20 guys finishing all within 2 minutes of each other.
At the Olympics there are only a certain number of slots per country with top countries like Germany and Australia getting 3 slots and South Africa getting 1 or 2 slots. The sad thing is that even if you work your butt off to qualify the South African Olympic Committee still might not send you as their policy is only to send medal contenders.
At the moment I have enough points to qualify for European and Continental Cups and have a long way to go to get to the World Championship Series. But I am on my way!
For the first time this year I will be based in Europe for around 4 months where I will be racing for a German club, ALZ, in the German Bundesliga. From Sigmaringen I will be able to more easily get to other ITU races in the vicinity. This will be a lot easier than trying to get to the race from South Africa! I will race for the club at the Bundesliga events and for South Africa at the ITU races.
Racing for ALZ will ensure that I get a bit of money in the form of starting fees and incentives and I will also get free accommodation and a beautiful training base.
It is going to take a lot of hard work on my part to achieve my dream of going to the Rio Olympics, but it is also going to cost a fair bit. It is so sad when our dreams are limited by our bank accounts.
If you feel that you might be able, in any way, financially or otherwise, to help me achieve my dream then I would love to hear from you!
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0836554862
My banking details are:
Account holder: Theo Blignaut
Account number: 017786568
Branch code: 011545
Keep on 🙂
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