Triathlon coach and parent Lisa Webb hailed the return of junior competitions for bringing the ‘passion’ back into racing following a successful Inter Regional Championship.
Webb, who coaches at Team Milton Keynes Triathlon, was present as children from the club, including her twin daughters, competed in the Inter Regional Championships for TriStar 2 and TriStar 3 athletes at Mallory Park, Leicestershire.
“It’s fantastic to see them back racing,” she said. “It was nice to have a mass start again - that’s the first one they’ve done this year and that made it a race again.
“It was great to get them back on that start line and get the competitive side of it back again.
“With Covid and the associated rise in mental health issues, as well as just the lack of activities that they’ve been allowed to do over the last 18 months, it’s important at every level to be back racing.
“At the competitive end, if that’s their passion, they’ve really missed out on it. It’s just great to get that element back.”
As well as TriStar events in September, there were relay championships at Mallory Park in August, where children competing were able to meet double Olympic medallist Alex Yee.
Webb said: “He turned up and had photos with all the kids and signed autographs. It’s great to see that he’s getting involved at the lower end age groups to bring them up as well.
“Alex, the Brownlees, Georgia Taylor-Brown, they’re household names now which is what inspires them. They can watch them and think ‘that’s what I want to be, that’s what I want to do’.”
A national and European champion at Age-Group level, Webb has since moved equally successfully into coaching and now trains several kids at Team MK, including her 12-year-old twin daughters Katie and Lauren.
With the importance of grassroots activities brought to the forefront in recent months, the enthusiasm and fun children bring to the triathlon environment has been key to putting smiles back on faces.
“They bring new ideas, they’re creative,” she said. “They’re much more creative than adults. Adults are quite one dimensional, set in their ways, and kids just bring a real fun element into it.
“They make up little games which they don’t realise help them keep fit and training. It keeps you on your toes and just gives you new ideas. The most important part is that they have fun. As long as the love is there for it, they’ll do well at it.
“If you fall out of love with it, you’re not going to have the same passion and drive so it's mostly trying to keep it fun because they’re young, and then steer them in the right direction and develop them over time rather than rush it.
“For now, the main focus is get out there and have a go at loads of different things and eventually you’ll find your pathway.”