13 yr old Gideon Mulitalo has not missed a race of the Samoa TRI Series in 5 seasons.
He started when he was 8 years old in the Tamatoa Tri Series. He finished 3rd in Race 1.
The 2017 POWERADE TRI Series kicked off on Saturday at Mulinu’u in perfect conditions for swimming, biking and running. The two races on hand, Tamatoa TRI for kids and the main event Sprint Triathlon was contested by very keen athletes at the Peninsula.
The three disciplines of the Sprint race saw competitors undertake a 750m swim, 20km bike and 4km run. The bike ride was contained within the peninsula with six laps between the roundabout at Sogi and the MNRE Weather office.
Darren Young, as expected dominated Race 1. There is no one else even close to his level of training and commitment to the sport on island at present. The race was simply a dot on his mega preparations for the New Zealand Ironman in two weeks. Darren used the race on Saturday to work on smaller parts of his Ironman race such as Transition. That is a very important part of the sport, transferring from Swim to bike, and bike to the marathon run.
Behind Darren yesterday were two of our most consistent locally raised triathletes. They are the future of the Sport in Samoa. Young Durant Webster finished second and Gideon Mulitalo came in a close third. They were second and third out of the water in the swim, ahead of Darren.
The two 13 year olds have been racing the Samoa TRI series for a few years. In the case of the young Mulitalo, he started in the series when he was an 8 year old. The staggering thing about his commitment is, he has not missed a Triathlon in five years, since 2013.
He is well supported by his parents Pastor Arthur Mulitalo and Avele College senior teacher, Line Mulitalo and the Oceania Triathlon Union (O.T.U.). Gideon has exclusive use of a Scott Tri bike which was funded by O.T.U.
Gideon is a fine example to our young triathletes, and to his younger siblings Urlin and Filipo who also competed yesterday. Filipo completed his first Tamatoa Tri yesterday, swimming all by himself and then riding and running to the jeer of supporters at Mulinu’u.
For all athletes yesterday, apart from Darren, it was the first time they got on a bike this year. It was fitting then the ride was a short one at 20km. There has been a lot of swimming and running here of late, so those two disciplines were well maintained yesterday.
Kat Riley was the sole female in the main Sprint race. For her first effort in a triathlon, that was a super effort to finish.
There were three teams in the race. The trio of Sara Todd (swim), Wally Collins (bike) and Cruz Hodson (run) claimed superiority in the teams’ event.
They finished seven minutes ahead of the next team and only two minutes back from individual winner, Darren Young.
The Samoa TRI Series is a joint effort this year between Samoa Events and the Samoa Triathlon Federation. Race 2 is on Saturday, 18th March.
Samoa Events’ first Te Kiwi Swim to honour Waitangi Day was a huge success. It was also part of a double-header events weekend held in Apia. The first event of the day was the Apia Waterfront 10KM Run early morning, second run of the Samoa Events Run Series that is a header to the Savaii Marathon on April 8th. Te Kiwi Swim followed later at midday at Taumeasina Island Resort to celebrate New Zealand’s national day.
The event brought together over 50 swimmers of all ages to participate in several races. The youngest swimmer was aged 7 years and a few are within range of their 70th birthdays.
And that is the magic of swimming, open water swimming in the ocean here in Samoa is actually dominated by the 40+ age group, in participation.
Stunning efforts from the senior group belong to Maree Hopley (60-64) who won the women’s 2.2km race. Geoff Dews (65-69) finished fourth in the men’s race. Also in the same AGR as Dews, Steve Iverson finished mid-pack in the 1.2km race and just ahead of Sieni Jan Doyle. Notable mention for Margaret Lesjak who signed on for the shorter distance but ended up swimming the longer race.
In the 50+ age group in the 2.2km race, Apolima Strait legend Mailata Leau came through again. Darren Young had his toughest swim ever, and Daniel Afoa did not give up in challenging conditions. In the 1.2km race Bernie Poort finished in second place and Steve Iverson just ahead of Sieni Jan Doyle. Stuart Brown also gets a mention for finishing his first ocean swim in Samoa.
But youth cannot be denied. Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi of Tanifa o le Vai was just too good to win the main race. TOV’s Andrea Schuster and Urlin Mulitalo took overall honours for the 1.2km and 250m respectively.
Saoluafata Village Triathletes did well with a men’s win (Palasi Live) in the 1.2km race, and many of their youngsters swam the 250M. Two from SVT swam the longer 2.2km race.
In keeping with Te Kiwi Waitangi theme, NZ Deputy High Commissioner Mike Walsh presented cash prizes to the winners. That was followed by a stirring haka by the Taumeasina events team. Then there was the beautiful Hangi kai by executive chef Bradley for post events festivities.
Swim Podium Results
Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi, 40mins 17secs
Maree Hopley, 1:04:42
Andrea Schuster (overall), 20mins 38secs
Palasi Liva, 27:50
Urlin Mulitalo 4mins 25secs (Overall)
Tofu So’oa’emalelagi, 4:35
In my other life, I cover the All Blacks, Boxing, watch the Weather and of course manage Samoa Events