A first World Triathlon Para Series medal was part of a breakthrough year internationally for Finley Jakes in 2022, and it’s moments like this that he’s hoping will continue in 2023 as he continues his development in the sport.
When he made the switch from para athletics to paratriathlon, he knew that transitioning from one discipline into three would be a big challenge, but, after spending his first few years within the British Triathlon Paralympic Pathway, the PTS4 paratriathlete is part of British Triathlon’s National Lottery Funded World Class Programme for the first time in 2023.
“It’s quite surreal because it’s been something I have wanted to aim for for quite a while, before when I was competing in athletics,” Jakes said.
“I have been in the talent squad for four to five years, so it was definitely something I was aiming for and worked quite hard to get to. It’s good to know that I have got to that point and now I can push on even further.
“It feels really special being part of the group that I have trained with for the last four years while I have been at uni. They have been on the world class programme while I have been developing in the talent squad, so now being a part of that world class group with athletes that have won medals at the biggest competitions, it is always good to know that I am alongside them officially now, so really special.”
Jakes got involved in paratriathlon through a talent ID day having initially looked at opportunities in para-athletics, and, after going from a sprinter to a paratriathlete, he’s enjoyed seeing his progress within the sport.
“I was looking online and managed to find a ‘discover your gold, discover your para potential’ programme just randomly online one day and I applied for,” Jakes said. “Paratriathlon wanted to see what I could do, I went to that, I had the running blade already and decided to give triathlon a go.
“[It was] quite daunting. I was a sprinter before, I had never done any endurance running and never set foot on a bike, never been on a saddle, I swam at school so I could swim but then I did the talent ID day and it was quite obvious that I couldn’t swim very well. It was quite a big learning curve to learn to swim as well and that’s been quite a long journey to get to where I am now.”
His journey has included multiple international successes, and British paratriathlon and paraduathlon titles. All the work he and his coaches have put in over the years came together at last year’s World Triathlon Para Series Montreal, where Jakes claimed silver in the men’s PTS4 race.
Reflecting on his first WTPS medal in Montreal, Jakes said: “I always think of the last 1k because the run was just a straight out and back and I was still sat in fifth on the run and I just emptied the tank. That was the best run I have ever done in a race.
“It almost equalled my 5k PB but it was just a great opportunity to actually be in the mix with the top athletes in the world, whereas before I have probably been chasing more than I had actually been competing in the race, so it was good to be able to fight and go up the places and see myself improve compared to where I was before.
“It was just a very proud moment to represent my country and be able to do that.”
Now part of the World Class Programme, Jakes is excited about the year ahead including the possibility of returning to Swansea when the World Triathlon Para Series returns to South Wales on Saturday 15 July for another action-packed day of paratriathlon.
Looking ahead to this year, Jakes said: “2023 holds a lot more planning, a lot more prep especially going into the qualification period with my eyes set on Paris,” Jakes added. “I’m looking forward to try out Montreal again, try and improve my result from Swansea last year and try and compete at the test event later on in August.
“It’s great to have a home crowd [at WTPS Swansea] to be able to cheer you on on every bit of the course. Last year wasn’t a great result for me due to illness leading up to the race so this year especially I’ll be looking to really push on and get a much better result."
On being part of the World Class Programme for the first time and how it will help further his development, Jakes replied: "The brilliant support team that I will have around me. Athletes that will help to push me on here at Loughborough. Being able to get those opportunities to race the big races and compete at the highest level.
"The support through S&C [strength and conditioning] coach, physio, nutritionist, performance lifestyle advisor now I’ve left uni I’ve been meeting them a lot more, physiology, so just last week I have done a bunch of physiology testing, so everything is a lot more in depth that what it has been previously."
Find out which athletes are part of the 2023 National Lottery Funded World Class Programme by reading the article here.
Interested in getting involved in paratriathlon? Visit our get involved page to find out more here including the opportunities available.