Congratulations to Rahul Jegatheva who can now add World Champion to his many accomplishments.
At the medal presentation, with Rahul lifting the boxing kangaroo aloft, it signalled mission accomplished.
Report provided by JJ Jegatheva
Waving the Australian flag as he crossed the finish line at Lake Okanagan, in Penticton, British Colombia, and hoisting aloft the boxing kangaroo on the winners platform on Friday the 25th of August 2017 will be one of the most cherished moments for 15 year old NCTC member, Rahul Jegatheva in years to come as it marked the point he took the mantle of World Champion at the International Triathlon Union Age Group World Championships in the Aquathlon, which is a 1km swim followed by a 5km run.
Of the 239 men of all ages that stepped on onto Lake Okanagan Beach at 7.20am, Rahul was the youngest, with many towering over him, in the end he proved that he simply had the bigger heart. He had been hoping for at best a top 20 overall finish, and a top 3 in the age group, but he almost beat the entire field in winning the 19 and under world title.
FULL RACE DAY REPORT – 25th August 2017
Very early start to the day, as we woke up at 4am. With a race start time of 7.20am, not much room for error with a need to have proper nutrition, get mentally prepared, get to the race venue at least 90 minutes before the event start and to get warmups done both on land and in the water.
The water temperature in Lake Okanagan where the swim portion of the event was to be held had been fluctuating across the 22 degree mark, which was the determining temperature as to wether this would be a wetsuit swim or a non-wetsuit swim. If it was a wetsuit swim, this would only have been his second wetsuit swim ever, and the first where he would have to remove the wetsuit and continue to race after that, as the first time was a straight Open Water race at Bussleton. The determination would only be made at 6.20am, with race referees confirming the water temperature. We were hoping it would not be a wetsuit swim. There is a belief that wetsuits are ‘the great equalizer’ as it assists some whose swim techniques are somewhat suspect and assists in streamlining better, so while it does assist everyone, the degree by which it helps differs from person to person. Always tricky removing the wetsuit after the swim, and trying not to lose too much time in that process as well. 6.20 rolled around. 21.5 degrees. It was a wetsuit swim. Rahul didnt have his oils that aided the removal of the wetsuit. More worries in the back of my mind.
Of the 239 men that stepped on onto Lake Okanagan Beach at 7.20am, Rahul was the youngest, with many towering over him. In my mind I was thinking ‘He looks like the youngest and littlest, but I hope he also has the biggest heart’. I told him before the race that he perhaps could target a top 20 overall finish, and maybe a top 3 in age group.
Off they went. and with wetsuits, with the naked eye, everyone looks the same. From a distance I can normally pick out Rahul’s stroke in Open Water races, but wetsuits do something to a swimmers natural stroke. The swim leg was a semicircle shaped one from one side of a little peninsula looking outcropping to the other, so the finish line of the swim could not be seen from the start, so I raced over to a rocky outcrop on the finish side, still at least 100m away from the nearest swimmers. With binoculars I picked him out. He was 3rd in the water. The moment I recognized him and that he was in a good position was an absolutely thrilling one. I then rushed back to the run portion of the race, to see the athletes emerging from the transition area to the run course.
Out he came, and he was in 2nd place overall in the race and in the gold medal position for the 19 & U age group. 19 year old Michael Fabes of the UK was only 20 seconds behind him. I was urging him to push himself to the limit, as this was only half the job. A big contingent of Aussies there on the day were cheering him on.
The run course was 2 laps of a 2.5km course. As he finished the first lap, he had dropped to 3rd overall (both the athletes in from of him were in the 20-24 year age category), but what was worrying was that there was a grimace on his face. He later told me that after the first 1.5km, when he was in 2nd overall with a realistic chance of taking the outright win, he felt a twinge in his leg muscles, and that cramping was coming on. He pushed too hard out of the water he said, and this could derail everything. He slowed trying to protect his legs through the finish. Of course at the time I had no idea that this was going on with him. When I saw the grimace and the stride lose its normal rhythm, my thoughts were hoping the illnesses he had been carrying over the past 2 weeks which forced him to miss a couple of swim and run training sessions were not overtaking him at the worst possible time.
I then watched looking out for Fabes to see if he had bridged the 20 second gap, but no, Fabes had faded out of the top 3. If Rahul kept going the final 2.5km the same way he had the first 2.5km, he would be world champion.
I moved to the finishing line in anticipation, watching the clock ticking over the finish line knowing roughly when to expect to see him come through.
What a thrilling sight it was for me to see Rahul bursting into view waving the Australian flag in his hands. This was the first time in his life that he has shown emotion of any sort BEFORE he crossed the finish line. He normally shows very little emotion AFTER a race, even in those he has done well in. Anyway, it was pure joy to watch. 17 year old Michael Clough of New Zealand took silver one minute and 3 second back with 19 year old Aidan Pierce of the UK a further 18 seconds adrift.
This was a journey that began about 2 and a half years ago after a surprising performance at the state cross country championships for which he had done no training. He’s been assisted by the amazing support provided by his coaches to the somewhat unusual training focus he has had to take with Perth City Swimming Club coaches initially Ian Mills and now Eoin Carroll providing the framework and space he needed to work with UWA’s Grant Landers & Mike Bosch of North Coast Tri Club, and also to participate in the North Coast Aquathlon Series over the past 2 years.