Triathlon: Injured athletes get back in the game

By Ben Guild

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Courteney Lowe, left, and Anneke Jenkins chill out at Mount Maunganui's Main Beach. Photo/John Borren.
Courteney Lowe, left, and Anneke Jenkins chill out at Mount Maunganui's Main Beach. Photo/John Borren.

Two of the region's most promising young athletes are joining forces with a hired hand to tackle the 2013 Craigs Investment Partners Tinman on December 8.

Triathlete Anneke Jenkins and cyclist Courteney Lowe will join forces with late running replacement Kyle MacDonald to tackle the team race in the 25th year of the event.

Jenkins is coming back from injury and using the event as a warmup for the season ahead.

"I suffered a stress reaction in my tibia, was injured for a few weeks overseas while we were struggling to diagnose the problem and we were unsure for a while and thought it might be a tendon," said Jenkins.

"There was no improvement and a subsequent MRI scan showed the problem.

"I have since worked with Dr Judith May, she has been awesome.

"We found out my bone density was low, perhaps from so much swimming and this was one aspect that led to the injury. I started walking and am now up to three to four runs a week for about 30 minutes.

"It has been a long process, but I am getting back to full training and will come back stronger."

The injury is the reason Jenkins chose the swim leg in the team event. Time with legendary triathlon coach Darren Smith has sharpened her focus on the importance of looking after her body.

His holistic approach, including a sports psychologist and detailed analysis of everything from technique to nutrition should see the 2012/13 Triathlon New Zealand Emerging Talent Award recipient go from strength to strength.

"Ien Hellemens helped with my nutrition change, to address the bone mineral density loss. More calories, calcium and weight training was implemented to strengthen the bones. I have only been running for two years after being a swimmer for a long time, so it has been hard on the body."

The 23-year-old is excited to soon be based in San Diego with the top coach in the world of women's triathlon.

"I've just joined his training squad with five of the top women in the world.

"He's got the best results in women's triathlon in the world - by a long shot. Lisa Norden is coming back to his squad after a year off and she won silver at the Olympics.

"He had two women on the podium at the London world champs and four in the top eight in the world and he only has about six women. He had six at the London Olympics."

A taste for racing in Europe has left her hungry for more after she burst onto the national scene with a second place in international company at the Takapuna round of the Tri Series and a bronze medal NZ National Champs Open Elite in Wellington.

Following her impressive debut summer last year, Jenkins spent time in Europe, touching base with the Tri NZ High Performance Squad and racing at ITU level, finishing in the top five in a few European Cups and the German National League events.

"My time in Europe was amazing, the racing experience was just incredible. To step up and race again and again with the top girls in the world was awesome.

"The crowds were pretty ecstatic too, it was just such an intense level of racing. I can't wait to go back next year.

"I knew before Takapuna that I could do it, but back then I hadn't even raced in a bunch, to get that bunch riding experience overseas was a big deal.

"Just to know that each race I stepped up to the level that was asked gave me confidence."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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