| Jul 30, 2014

Over 130 youngsters aged 3-15 participated in this year's Kids of Steel (KOS) Triathlon event, which took place on July 27 in Sharbot Lake. The race was hosted by the Bytown Storm Triathlon Club and attracted racers and their families from all over Ontario some from as far away as Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Milton, Peterborough, Windsor, Cornwall, Pembroke and Petawawa.

The KOS is one of the five qualifying races for Triathlon Ontario's Youth Cup point series. The event included numerous races, all triathlon events and each with swim, bike and running portions of varying lengths depending on the age group. The shortest event, for participants aged 6 and 7, included a 100 metre swim, 5 km bike ride and 1 km run, and the longest event, which was for racers aged 14 and 15, included a 400 metre swim, 10 km ride, and a 4 km run.

New this year was a draft legal event, one of just three events offered in Ontario for participants aged 14 and 15. Greg Kealey of Bytown Storm Triathlon and the event's race director said Sharbot Lake offers up the “perfect” venue. “Not only is there clean water and a great beach-front park and plenty of parking but it's a very condensed course allowing racers to loop around numerous times, which gives parents and onlookers a great chance to watch the kids race. A lot of the kids come to this event from far away places just because they love this particular venue and the unique course that we have here.”

Historically, the event is one of the oldest races for kids in Canada. It was originally founded over 30 years ago by Sharbot Lake residents Rudy and Joan Hollywood and Joan was the head official at the race again this year. The event and venue is also a historic one for triathletes of all ages for another reason - famed Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield, who won Olympic gold in the inaugural Olympic triathlon event in 2000, raced and won some of the earliest races here. Whitfield has been immortalized with a bronze plaque in his honor at Oso Beach Park.

Fifteen-year-old Liam Donnelly of Campbellville, Ontario who placed first in his event, said he enjoyed the course and he recalled the exact moment in the race where he was able to move into the first place position. “I was in second place out of the first transition and caught Kyle (who placed second) and attacked at that point not wanting Kyle to draft off me.” Donnelly paid homage to Whitfield, who he said is one of his heroes. He had a chance to meet the famed triathlete when Whitfield was racing in Toronto a few years ago. “I ran right beside him for the last 600 metres of his race and we talked afterwards... He is such a nice guy and definitely is the inspiration for the majority of Canadian triathletes. He even gave me a shout out on Twitter,” Donnelly recalled. Donnelly will be taking part in the third provincial race in the series in August and said he feels “totally ready for it.”

In the female ages 14 - 15 event, Erika Rankin, who also won here last year, surprised herself by taking first place again. Rankin also plays soccer and was not able to train much prior to the KOS due to numerous injuries. She said she was thrilled with her win. Unfortunately she will not be able to qualify for the cup since she missed the earlier races in the series. Racers looking to win the Triathlon Ontario Provincial Youth Cup have to compete in at least four of the five qualifying provincial races and their top four scores will determine the winner.

Liam Donnelly said he dreams “every day” of competing in the 2020 Olympics. Asked if he received any pointers from Whitfield, he recalled Whitfield's advice to him: “Follow your dreams, work hard and the rest will come.” Liam took the time out after his medal presentation to get a picture of himself beside the plaque of Whitfield before he departed for home.


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