Journey to the Continental Championships

Journey to the Continental Championships

Jason_1Foundation Scholar Development Officer, Jason Pentz, describes his incredible journey supporting blind athlete David Jones to the summit of the international triathlons.

I met David through a mutual friend in June 2014. David, an avid and world-ranked visually impaired athlete, was looking for a pilot to assist him with his cycling and with my history of being a cyclist and someone who is always looking for a challenge, our partnership seemed to be a good match.

A new challenge

This decision by the two of us was something new, a challenge that we tackled with some excitement. David’s goal to include competitive cycling onto his list of abilities required two things: 1) someone who could teach him the secrets and 2) someone to pilot his bike. Having been a professional cyclist, I could certainly teach him secrets as well as pilot the tandem bike we ride.

Being a pilot was a something new for me. As a pilot for a visually impaired athlete, my role is to guide him through the race. In guiding him, we do the race together and are considered a team who races under the name of the visually impaired athlete.

Starting Out

Having raced a couple of cycling races, we did our first Duathlon in October of 2014 on a warm Clanwilliam day which consisted of a 5km run, a 20km cycle and then a 2.5km run. As this was our first event that included a run, we had a tough time getting through the race. The main thing that we took from this event was that we had lots of fun and would definitely like to do more of these kinds of events.

In December 2014, with some training and a bit more focus, we took part in the Western Province Triathlon Championships. We had a much better day and managed to win the PT5 race (Para-Triathlon 5-category for blind and visually impaired athletes). As a result of being the WP champions, we took part in the South African Triathlon Championships in February 2015 and, here too, we managed to win which afforded us the opportunity to be part of national squad, which went to Egypt for the Continental Championships.

Our First International Race

On a very warm morning in May 2015 (It was 35 °C by 7 am.) we started the race in Sharm el Shiehk.  After the 750m swim, 20km ride and 5km run incredibly we had won the Para-Triathlon 5 race of the Continental Championships.  As a result of the win, David scored 400 ITU (International Triathlon Union) points, which moved David’s world ranking to 14th. Not a bad result or ranking for some who has only spent one season in the sport of triathlon

By Jason Pentz

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