The elite mens race on the 12th of July 2018 at the International Triathlon Union World Aquathlon Championships on the island of Fyn in Denmark was the hardest Aquathlon race 16 year old Rahul Jegatheva, of North Coast Triathlon Club has ever competed in as he fought his way to a silver medal for Australia from dead last in the Elite Junior category due to a 15 second time penalty for a registration mishap the day before the race.
Was devastating on the 11th of July to learn that he would have to start 15 seconds after the entire elite field, and we decided to keep the news under wraps, as it would have been especially difficult to take for his mom anxiously waiting in Perth. A call was made to her as soon as the race began to let her know so she was the first to learn of the penalty.
It was very hard for Rahul to see the field take off ahead of him and losing the ability to draft and swim in the pack with the lead swimmers, as he would have been among the top 3 swimmers in the entire field irrespective of age. Once he started he described a feeling of desperation that he would never be able to bridge the gap and pushed himself beyond what he should have to reduce the deficit.
Pushing his way through the larger bodies of the elite athletes, he hauled himself from last to 6th among the elite juniors by the end of the swim. The swim had always been his strongest weapon, never having been headed by anyone in his age group in his life in the swim leg of the aquathlon, but now he had to depend on the 5km run to haul himself into the medals having over exerted in the swim.
Heading out of transition was a steep incline, and he felt his legs start to cramp after kicking too hard in the swim. He had to run right on the edge of cramp unable to push as strongly as we normally would, while trying to catch the athletes from Denmark, the USA, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine ahead of him.
Turning on what afterburners he could afford, Rahul moved into the bronze medal position at the 2.5km mark of the run with Simon Koblizek of the Czech Republic and Valdemar Solok of Denmark ahead of him.
In a grandstand finish Rahul outran Koblizek to grab the silver medal by 4 seconds, but that penalty was too much for him to overhaul the Danish champion.
“I am very happy to have represented Australia, winning the silver medal. Was a great atmosphere and a wonderful experience racing these elite athletes. I am truly grateful to my coaches Grant Landers of UWA Triathlon Club and Eoin Carroll of the Perth City Swim Club, and of course the North Coast Tri Club where I have had to run handicap races before, never thinking that it would be something I would have to repeat at a world event. I do want to give thanks to the City of Stirling for assistance with local travel and Clive Palmer for his assistance with flight costs to Denmark”
Article written by JJ Jegatheva