A British Triathlon affiliated club, Optima Racing Team, have been swim, bike and running in south London for the past 20 years and are providing financial support to help introduce new people from their local area to the sport.
“The pandemic has been a tough time for many people financially,” said Mark Klein, Junior Head Coach. “We want people from across the community where we train to be able to come and get involved if they want to, without costs getting in the way.
“Triathlon is often regarded as a rich sport because of the equipment and access to facilities needed to take part, and this bursary is aimed at helping to reduce as many barriers as possible for anyone who wants to get involved as part of the club.”
James Marler, Chair of the club, set up the Jack Boericke Foundation following the death of one of their club members, Jack Boericke, aged 16 and the foundation will be supporting the club in providing the bursaries.
“The foundation aims to help people who want to take part in triathlon to do so, with the funding behind the bursary primarily coming from there.
“Whilst we know we won’t be able to offer a bursary to everyone, we’re really wanting as many people as possible to email us to help overcome the cost barrier to taking part in the sport.
“When we review the applications we’ll be looking at who will really benefit from the bursaries and making sure that those who need it most are able to access the support to give swim, bike, run a go.”
If you’re interested in getting involved in triathlon with Optima Racing Team and would like to apply for a bursary, you can contact the club at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder and Head Coach, James Beckinsale, commented about the club: “We’re open to all ages and abilities, from our eight-year-olds and first-timers up to rising national stars and Olympians.
“Many of our members live on their own and in flats with no outside space and, for us, it was really important to maintain connection and keep providing the opportunity to train for all of our members during lockdown.
“To help keep people active and engaged we ran two virtual training sessions a day during lockdown and these included cycling and running sessions, as well as strength and conditioning and mindfulness sessions.”
The club also organised a challenge for all their members to swim, bike, run the distance from London to Tokyo and raised over £11,000 for two charities connected to members of the club.
Bringing people together was a key motivator behind everything that the club organised, with weekly quizzes organised to keep the social aspect of club life going.
With the end of summer means the end of open water swimming, however, despite the ability to train in-person, the club are in search of swimming pools to train in.
“We’re now entering a winter programme like we would normally with the view to 2021 being a ‘regular’ year in terms of training and events,” added Beckinsale. “Whilst we want it to be business as usual as much as possible, we’ve found it really hard to access pools to support our athletes in their development.
“Not having a full triathlon programme due to our local pool being closed we have inevitably lost a couple of our members over the summer because, for some people at the moment, it is too expensive to pay £5-8 per session to swim at a local pool on top of club subs.”
Despite the challenges that all clubs have faced this year, Optima remains open and competitive and are looking forward to welcoming new members joining them.
You can find out more about the club by visiting their website below.