Dreams can come true!
At birth, I was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism. My doctors regretfully told my parents that I would be an average child, with average abilities both mentally and physically, provided I took medication daily. At two years of age, I developed sepsis (infection) of the collar bone, caused from a chronic sinus/ear infection, and could barely walk!
Gradually I recovered, and fought hard against future sinus infections. At age 6 I joined the local YMCA soccer team and found my passion for running. At age 7 I joined the YMCA swim team and discovered my love for racing competitively. At age 10, my local triathlon club, Three Rivers Road Runners (3rrr.org), organized a children’s triathlon – so I gave it a try, using my dad’s mountain bike that I could barely reach the pedals on! In my interview with the local TV news network I explained my love for swimming and running, and how my lack of practice made me stink at biking (and also because I did not have skinny wheels like others)!
After winning several youth triathlons on my mountain bike, I invested in a good road bike that helped me race in Olympic-distance triathlons. However, tack weed is abundant in Tri-Cities, WA, causing a high chance of flat tires – so I rode with slime in my tubes, and flat-proof lining – the rim weight slowed me down so much! At age 15, I discovered I was a really good aquathlete when I won second overall at a run-swim-run duathlon! At age 17, I decided to partake in the 2012 USAT Aquathlon National Championships in Mercer Island, WA. I met world class athletes there – who inspired me to raise my dreams. I finished 7th overall and qualified for Auckland 2012, but I couldn’t go – as captain of the cross country team, I felt obligated to lead my high school team to the regional competition, so I promised myself that next year I would keep London in my sights.
I was stunned to discover that I had made 2012 All American status in Aquathlon! A few months later, I arrived in Lake Logan, Canton, NC to do my best swim and run at the 2013 USAT Aquathlon Nation Championships. I was the 6th person getting out of the water and in 10th by the end of transition (as I chose to put socks on)! Gradually I took out my competition – and made a race to the finish! I was the 2013 USAT Aquathlon National Champion, and I was on my way to London! It took me a few days to realize the magnitude of this victory. I had trained hard all summer after high school graduation. My training included a 4AM breakfast, followed by a 1 hour bike ride to a 5AM swim practice that lasted 2 hours, and then another 1 hour ride home. Three days a week, I also biked (30 min) – in the sweltering heat, to an afternoon 1 hour swim practice.
My team mates made it fun for me to look forward to these long and hard practices. Something that really moved me though, was the way the community of Tri-Cities, WA came together to organize and raise money to help pay for the extremely expensive trip to London, through sponsors and fundraisers (bake sales, selling t-shirts and bracelets). Some of my fellow swimmers and XC runners even chose to become triathletes!
Another swimming parent even offered me a pair of HED.3 wheels for the local Olympic-distance triathlon with no slime in it. For the first time I could feel what speed on a bike is! Armed with my London suit (TYR Carbon) and a modified tri-bike, I proceeded to win the 2013 Titanium Man Triathlon Overall Champion with a time of 1:57:08 – almost 3 minutes ahead of my competition – by posting the fastest running and swimming splits!
I cannot believe it still – it really does take a community to raise a kid – as well as a Triathlete! A few of the local businesses have chipped in to cover my expenses – all thanks to the hard work of these wonderful swim team parents (Michelle Withers and Darlene Murphy). Feel free to visit the Team Jeevan facebook page they created (www.facebook.com/TeamJeevan) if you get a chance. I am proud to represent my Tri-cities community, and to represent Team USA at the ITU World Championships in London 2013. After which, I hope to continue pursuing my triathlon dreams, by training with the Husky Triathlon Club at the University of Washington.