StAUTri: A True Underdog Story
The majority of St Andrews sports clubs are well established, funded and have dozens of members competeing for places, as well as top level coaches at every training session. The […]
The majority of St Andrews sports clubs are well established, funded and have dozens of members competeing for places, as well as top level coaches at every training session. The university’s AU does, of course, support up-and-coming clubs, providing them (most of the time) with necessary assistance, but it is very rare indeed to come across a rising sports team that is also competeing for the top five places in the Scottish Championship.
Six months or so ago, Jorge Milburn and Mark Diamond shuddered at the realization that St Andrews is the only Scottish university without a triathlon team. Putting their heads together, and with the help of ex-professional coach Steven Clark – who volunteered pro bono – they began establishing our university’s first. The AU was not of much use at first… Their training times at the local East Sands swimming pool cost substantial amounts of money, they did not have the slick gear worn by triathletes and potential members were scared off by the thought of such an intense sport.
As time progressed, the club grew and a core team came together. Jorge said that “unlike in any other sport at St Andrews, our members do not have to furiously compete for one place. They work at their own pace; some of them could not even swim one length of the pool when they joined!” Training levels increased and soon they were cycling, running and swimming, as a team, six times a week! Team member Arina Constance Nagy-Vizitiu says that they “see each other on such a frequent basis we’ve become like a family, which makes the training even more fun.”
The club’s first triathlon was set for April 14th. In a philanthropic spell, Jorge provided them all with state-of-the-art triathlon suits, complete with a university crest! The competition was tough as the opposition were seasoned runners, swimmers and cyclists. According to Catherine Pendreigh, “most of us excelled in one of the three departments, but despite being good sportsmen all around the more professional triathletes at times proved to be too good for us.” But that did not matter: they took 3rd and 4th places in the male category and a 1st place in the female. After six short months of non-stop training, the team surpassed all expectations at their first triathlon. In the months ahead, and next year too, they have numerous competitions to look forward to, including The Tough Mudder – a brutal Iron Man-style gauntlet, which requires team work as well as individual excellence.
Hard work and perseverance of this kind deserves tremendous applause; I was certainly amazed when hearing the club’s story. Sadly, several 4th year members will be leaving the club, but the team will be left in good hands; it will grow and will improve yet further – I certainly believe so from an outsider’s point of view. If you’re considering joining them, take a look at this magnificent video of their cycling trip to the Isle of Skye, where they battled tough terrain and heavy snow! Congratulations to our triathlon team and good luck in the races ahead!