The Illawarra has a reputation as a triathlon breeding ground and the Illawarra Academy of Sport is hard at work producing the next generation of Australian representatives.
The athletes completed a training camp in January, with a focus on developing their cycling skills.
Academy coach Brendan Sexton said the decision to focus on bike-handling skills was made due to the edge superior bike skills can hand teenage competitors over their rivals.
“Running and swimming are very fitness based, while cycling is skill heavy,” Sexton said. “We find a lot of athletes have a swimming or running background, or both, so cycling is the leg where juniors can gain the most in terms of improvement without too much work.
“At this camp we were focusing on learning how to ride in packs, drafting, handling skills, taking tight corners, we had a few fun obstacle courses as well.”
The camp also featured athletes from junior sporting academies from across the state, which Sexton said provided the Illawarra athletes the opportunity to learn from some of their rivals.
A London Olympian, Sexton was impressed with the improvements made throughout the camp.
“We finished the camp off with a race in Port Kembla, which allowed the athletes to put the skills learnt into practice in a race environment.
“The athletes all definitely improved their bike skills and they also got a sense of what they need to do to continue improving and how they’ll work on it.”
The Academy’s triathletes have put their skills into practice in recent weeks, with squad members taking part in a range of events, including the Australia Day Aquathon.
Jacinta Cliff has been among the top performers, impressing in round two of the Triathlon Australia Junior and Youth Series in Canberra in January.
After solid results in the two individual races, Cliff was selected to represent NSW in the mixed relay, where she won a bronze medal. Cliff was also invited to attend the Triathlon Australia Development Camp at the AIS.