FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Melaika Russell counts herself lucky that when her bicycle broke down on the cycling leg of the Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon, her good friend who had tagged along just to support her was able to hop off her own bike and loan it to her so that she could complete the race.
Eventually winning the junior division in a time of two hours and four minutes, which also placed her 27th overall out of a field of close to 130 participants, Russell flashed a smile as impressive as her performance. The Immaculate Conception High School third former is almost a triathlon veteran, having competed in several stagings over the years, but this one she shared is very fulfilling because at Jake’s Triathlon, she feels her efforts are way more appreciated.
For Russell, being a part of this event, she knew that she was more than just a number or a name on a piece of paper, which is part of the overall appeal of Jake’s Triathlon. “My wheel came off, I fell off my bicycle and landed on some ‘macka’; but I had trained for a very long time and I couldn’t let that stop me from achieving my goal,” she said.
Russell, who shared that she trains a lot by doing weekly rides, said that despite the issue with her equipment, she was pleased that all her hard work paid off.
“I had to incorporate a lot of different sports training to get myself prepared and I even did some research on technique improvement, such as how to transition faster from one area to another. Although there was a small hiccup on the bicycling leg, the swimming and running events were good.”
Russell was happy to be one of the many participants out and enjoying the day.
“It was as if the south coast awoke from its slumber as the community of Treasure Beach and its environs were out in their numbers to cheer on the participants,” she said.
The champion smiled as she recounted that those who felt the warm rays of the sun were more than willing to go cool off either in the nearby ocean or for those who did not feel like getting sand between their toes, opted instead to refresh themselves at the Malta station that served up ice cold beverages all day long. Indeed the Malta reps were kept busy providing flavour in both cups and tins and the youngsters especially hung out by the booth as the drink gave them the energy to tackle all the sun-soaked activities.
Considering the triathlon to be a family affair, Russell shares she was encouraged to do her best, knowing that her sister and father, Channelle and Carlyle Russell, were also a part of the race.
“We saw that our dad had a keen interest for the triathlon and my sister and I became naturally drawn to it. Our father encouraged us, so we felt like we could do anything. I’m really happy we got involved, and especially after this year, I can now say that I’m a champion,” she beamed.