Duathlon: Alice in sporting wonderland

By Luke Balvert

Adding another sporting title to her already blossoming sporting career is something of a regular occurrence for 17-year-old Alice McFall.

The Aquinas College student won the women's Under-19 category in the national standard distance - 10km run, 40km cycle and 5km run - in Taupo last month and automatically qualified for the 2013 Duathlon World Championships in Canada.

However, what was originally a training exercise for the self-professed triathlete has become yet another possible sporting option to pursue in the future.

McFall said the lack of triathlons before the recent Triathlon World Championships in Auckland, where she placed 26th, had been the main reason behind competing, but it had also allowed her to practise certain race skills.

"There were no triathlons to have a warm up for World Champs [ITU World Championship Grand Final Series]. It was a bit of a jackpot.

"It was a good event to practise my transition and race pace skills before the triathlons."

McFall is training for the 2013 Under-19 Oceania Championships to be held in Wellington where she needs to place in the top 10 to qualify for next September's ITU World Triathlon Championships in London.

With both international events self-funded a decision would have to be made closer to the time, but her main goal at this stage was to qualify for London.

Such dedication and persistence has begun to rub off on younger students with a "strong young female triathlete group" emerging at the school.

"It is an evolving sport and its gaining momentum in a younger school community."

McFall is not someone to rest on her laurels, and she describes herself as a "really bad bored person".

She also fits in a number of netball positions into an already busy schedule, including the Bay of Plenty Under-17 Blue representative team and umpiring the Thursday night premier women's competition.

What started out as the school's idea three years ago, has seen McFall quickly rise through the ranks of umpiring to recently be selected for the Netball New Zealand National Development squad to assemble from December 11-15.

"I began umpiring in 2009, following the school's emphasis for service to the community. I started with the 7C team and have progressed from there."

The squad will be taught about nutrition, sports psychology, biomechanics and visual training alongside the New Zealand Talent Development players, something McFall was looking forward to.

"It's exciting, from both a player and umpire point of view. I can get tips from both."

McFall has also been nominated for outstanding contribution to sport at this year's Bay of Plenty Sports Awards after being a Netball New Zealand youth delegate for the Bay of Plenty.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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