Triathlon: Busy Oceania Champs for Clapperton family

Jackie Clapperton at the 2015 Chicago ITU World Age Group Championships. Photo / Supplied
Jackie Clapperton at the 2015 Chicago ITU World Age Group Championships. Photo / Supplied

This weekend's Sovereign Oceania Triathlon Championships in Gisborne will be a busy one for the Clapperton family. Husband and wife, Shane and Jackie will both be racing, but once the finish line is crossed, their days will be far from over. You see, both Jackie and Shane are paramedics, and just as soon as they are safely to the finish, they will suit up again to work in the medical team looking after the rest of the athletes over the weekend.

The family is well known in triathlon circles, with both heavily involved in racing themselves and Jackie's son Tayler (Reid) emerging as one of the brightest young prospects in the sport.

Injury though has hit at just the wrong time, with a long awaited high profile race in their own backyard, Jackie is not sure how her race day will go and Tayler has been ruled out with a broken arm and will have to be content with watching from the sidelines.

Jackie has been battling plantar fasciitis since the ITU Chicago Age Group World Champs in September last year.

"My build up couldn't really be worse. I'm still going to compete but I'm really worried about the run, and I hate running anyway. I'm a bit gutted about it all, I'm unsure if I will even be able to complete the run. I'm nervous, but we will see how it goes. I've been doing a bit of biking and a bit of swimming, but I haven't been allowed to run up until now, I've just started. I did a kilometre the other day and that was hard enough."

Tayler was New Zealand's leading junior triathlete, memorably winning the National Schools Championships on his home turf in Gisborne a few years ago, he is this year racing in the Under-23 age group and is based out of Cambridge with the Tri NZ High Performance Squads.

However, unfortunately for Tayler, he was hit by a car while he was out on his bike and Jackie says he won't be able to race his home event.

"Tayler's had surgery and has had pins put in his arms.

He was hit by a restricted driver with passengers who just came around the corner and drove straight into him from behind. So he is out and he's getting really frustrated. He's over at Cambridge at the moment doing some rehab, but he will be here this weekend. We will have a full house here with some of Tayler's triathlon mates staying. Liam Ward and Lizzie Stannard are some of the ones who will be here, which will be good."

Jackie says while the injury is frustrating for Tayler, he's really positive about getting better.

"He hasn't had a chance to race at the Under-23 level yet, but he's just taking his recovery day by day. I know how badly he wanted to race in Gisborne this weekend so it will be hard for him to watch, but he'll be okay."

Jackie and Shane can't wait to race on their own backyard and they've got their fingers crossed for some beautiful Gisborne weather on race day.

"We can't wait, it's awesome to have a big Oceania triathlon event like this in Gisborne. It's been organised really well with Terry Sheldrake the event director (and President of the Oceania Triathlon Union). He has a great committee behind him and I think it's all coming together. It sounds like it's going to be a great event. It's great to see the community really getting behind the triathlon as well. We have a brand new boardwalk here too, so it will be good to use that as part of the run."

Jackie's really unsure about how she will go at the weekend, given her injury, and there's a bit of added family pressure as well.

"I really wanted to put my name forward for Mexico (Age Group World Champs in September), but with my injury I'm not sure how it will go. Shane has already qualified for Mexico and the rule in our house is that everyone has to qualify to be able to go. I'm always the last one. Hopefully they'll cut me some slack and let me go because I really enjoyed the Chicago Age Group World Champs last year."

Entries remain open for all age group and fun events, with the elites set to race on Saturday followed by the age group and fun events on Sunday morning, with the exciting prospect of the Junior Mixed Team Relay on Sunday afternoon, with multiple teams from New Zealand and Australia set to do battle in a fitting finale to a great weekend of triathlon.

- NZ Herald

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