There were winners and notwithstanding, even more winning potential. By that, we refer to tri-champions in the making. Already in its fourth instalment, the MILO®-Ministry of Education (MOE) Youth Triathlon saw a wide spectrum of students, numbering around 1,300 from ages 9 to 19, grace the grounds of what was the turf – East Coast Park – of the recently concluded Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore. On a light note, there were no podium finishers, just finishers – champions in their own right.
“The triathlon is a good platform to expose youths to sports outside school. Through participation in sports, students learn respect, teamwork, integrity, responsibility and resilience. More than cultivating a physically active and health lifestyle in our students, sports also develops their character.” says Mr. Ong Kim Soon, Deputy Director, Physical and Sports Education, Ministry of Education.
That’s right. We tend to overlook the intangibles of character values in triathlons where the sport’s gruelling demands translate into more than mere physical aptitude.
The event this year comprised three individual categories with varying distances on sea and land to accommodate the age differences. In the individual Junior (9 to 12 years), participants swam 100 metres followed by a 3-kilometre bike leg and an 800-metre run. The individual Intermediate (13 to 16 years) had a slightly extended course of a 200-metre swim, 6-kilometre bike ride and a 1.6-kilometre run. For the Seniors (17 to 19 years), it was a 300-metre swim, 9-kilometre bike ride and a 2.4-kilometre run.
Trititude caught up with a couple of Juniors after the race to find out how they fared. The common bane identified...
“Running. Because it’s a lot of leg power.” comments Linus Chan, 9.
Zara Shilakis, 10, had a similar opinion. “Running. Because you have to use your whole body to do the thing – to run. Yes, very tiring.”
There was also the 3-member Intermediate Relay for the secondary school bunch (13 to 16 years) – same course as the individual Intermediate – and another 3-member Family Relay. Only introduced last year as a new segment to the MILO®-MOE Youth Triathlon, the Family Relay garnered an 11-strong family contingent, where parents and children shared a wonderful multi-sport experience.
“My husband and I have always wanted to take part in a sports event together with our children, but our busy schedules was no issue. However, we decided to be committed this year and take part as a family because we felt sports was a great way to bond and grow as a family. The experience has been very rewarding and as a family, we had a lot of fun just training together.” shares Ms. Lau Tan Pee, who participated in the Family Relay with her husband and daughter. Her son, on the other hand, tackled the individual Junior category alone.
As aforementioned, all were winners today. Participants who made it pass the FINISH line received a Personalised Finisher’s Certificate and Finisher’s Meal. But not everyone was an “amateur” in the tri-scene as most would imagine.
Lucas Chan (elder brother of Linus Chan whom we interviewed above), 11, had this to say when asked whether this was his first triathlon. “Second for Milo. I do a lot of other triathlons. OSIM and some other, and some kids’ runs – Standard Chartered.”
New to the MILO®-MOE Youth Triathlon this year was the SwimSafer Open Water Clinics. To better prepare eager participants for the open water swim leg, students were encouraged to attend these clinics to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills.
A stepping stone to the big stage we must say, the MILO®-MOE Youth Triathlon can certainly be looked upon as an initial spark that’d ignite an ardent interest in the sport.