Integrity, Sportsmanship, Courage in Triathlon

Saturday, August 6, 2016 by Coach Kristen

As adult triathletes, we can still learn a lot from the kids that participate in this sport.  I want to tell you a little story about a kid I know.  It’s a story about being honest, having integrity, promoting sportsmanship, but most of all exuding courage.  It’s something we should all strive for…we should all want to be like him.

A ten year old boy on our Triple Threat Tough Junior tri team participated in his first open water kids triathlon today.  He is a sweet boy who has athleticism hidden below a cover of shyness.  He is competitive with himself, but will race if put to the test.  Coming from a non-swimming background, the lake would be his nemesis to overcome today.  Past the swim, he would have to do two loops on the bike and then run to finish off his race.  Surprisingly to all of us, it was not the swim that the lesson for everyone was learned today, but the double loop bike course.

He had a fun race today and crossed the finish line smiling.  He had just received a new road bike three weeks ago and had picked up some serious speed in those pedals over his old mountain bike.  But…that speed was a little too fast because as he crossed the finish line, his mom informed him that he had only completed one loop of the bike course when he was supposed to do two.  Now upset and with the finisher medal hanging around his neck, his first exclamation was “I didn’t earn this…I did it wrong”.  Instead of proceeding to pout, or leaving the results as they were out of embarrassment to correct them, he came up with a solution (with a little help from his parents).  Even though it was a hard pill for him to swallow, he approached the officials and informed them of his mistake.  He asked if it would be possible for him to get his bike out of transition and go do another loop on the course to make his mistake right.  They allowed it and he hopped back on his speedy bike and valiantly completed that second loop of the bike course.

It was not the race that he had hoped for, but it was more than that to us! For us as coaches of TTT Jr, this act was way more of a skill than we could have ever hoped to teach.  Over any time he could have turned in, showing integrity, sportsmanship, and courage made us prouder than he could ever have imagined.

As adults, we should be more like him.  If a ten year old boy can do this when mistakes are made, there is no reason why adults cannot do it too.  Too many stories exist of cheaters and liars in our sport.  We should not have to second guess whether someone completed the whole course.  The act that he demonstrated above deserves the medal.  Be honest! Be responsible! Care!

Here are a few excerpts from our handbook that are in the forefront of our junior tri team teachings.

Every parent should feel proud of their kids to see the right attitude, confidence, discipline and self-control toward the challenges imposed by triathlon training and competition.

Athletes’ Character Code  — Moral Values — Actions in Life — Actions in Sport

Be respectful – Be respectful of other people. Be respectful of others’ property. Be respectful of the environment. Be respectful of yourself. Be respectful of the game and to its rules and traditions. Be respectful of your opponents. Be respectful of the officials. Be respectful in victory and defeat.

Be responsible – Fulfill your obligations. Be dependable. Be in control of yourself. Be persistent. Prepare yourself to do your best. Be punctual for practices and games. Be self-disciplined. Be cooperative with your teammates.

Be caring – Be compassionate and have empathy. Be forgiving. Be generous and kind. Avoid being selfish or mean. Help your teammates play better. Support teammates in trouble. Be generous with praise, stingy with criticism. Play for the team, not yourself.

Be honest – Be truthful and forthright. Act with integrity. Be trustworthy. Be courageous to do the right thing. Play by the spirit of the rules. Be loyal to the team. Play drug free. Admit to your own mistakes.

Be fair – Follow the Golden Rule. Be tolerant of others. Be willing to share. Avoid taking advantage of others. Treat other athletes as you wish to be treated. Be fair to all athletes, including those who are different. Give other players an opportunity. Play to win within the rules.

Be a good citizen – Obey the laws and rules. Be educated and stay informed. Contribute to the community. Protect others. Be a good role model. Strive for excellence. Give back to the sport. Encourage teammates to be good citizens.

I challenge you to be more like this kid! I challenge you to put this at the forefront of the skills and habits you are learning from the sport of triathlon.  So proud of our Triple Threat Tough Junior athlete(s)!

P.S. We commend his parents for showing this same character code too!

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