Rotorua triathlete Sam Osborne loves the challenge of getting all three disciplines of running, biking and swimming going well at the same time. His sport has taken him around the world and today we find out more about him - from his most embarrassing moment as an athlete and how he perfects his coffee-making skills. As part of the Behind the Name feature, we get to know the Bay of Plenty's talented athletes representing New Zealand internationally. Read on to find out the age this international triathlete learned to swim, it may surprise you!
What is the first memory you have of triathlon and how has that impacted your life?
RATs Multisport Festival. I was encouraged by a teacher at school (Paul Billing) to give it a go. By no means did it go amazingly well but well enough, I did enjoy it. Guess I was corrupted from then. Probably one of the coolest things is Paul and I still train together now and he's done a good part of my build up for the Pan-American Tour with me.
What is it that you love about triathlon?
The challenge of getting all three disciplines going well at the same time. I enjoy all three, don't really have a favourite discipline.
What is your sporting highlight to date and why?
Second at Cross Triathlon World Champs 2018. Third Xterra Worlds Champs 2018. Making a World Champs podium is a massive achievement, you know everyone is peaking for that one day and it really is the best of the best.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while competing at any level?
My first World Tour win in Sweden in 2015 I ate it big time right in front of transition.
What has been the biggest injury you've suffered and how did that happen?
Broken ribs [after I] hit a tree mountain biking. Actually on an incredibly basic piece of trail people would be horrified and where I took myself out, thankfully was only in the off season though and really didn't affect anything.
What is the best advice you have been given when it comes to triathlon and who gave it to you?
Bevan Docherty spoke to a whole group of us as new members of the Triathlon High Performance Program; he told us the sport is hard, we might think it has been tough but really have no idea yet.
The whole talk he gave to us was all a bit odd and very straight up, like Bevan always was. But a lot of truth, and my first two years racing in Europe it stuck with me. They were by far my hardest time I've had and that I think was make or break. It took another two years after that before I started to perform in Europe.
What tips do you have for anyone getting into your sport?
Join a squad/group it is always more fun, more motivating in a squad environment and you'll improve/learn a lot quicker.
If you weren't doing triathlon what would you be doing?
I don't think I'll ever be far away from what I'm doing at the moment. I love mountain biking, I could never walk away from that.
I would like to try a few marathons when my time of racing professionally is done. It's something I've always wanted to do, probably a result of having run with all of the boys from Lake City from so young. Really just interested to see what I was capable of and the banter around that in the club seems like a fun thing to do.
When you're not competing or training, what are you doing?
While I'm at home, usually at Planet Bike, family mountain bike business making the best coffees in town trying to improve my latte art.
Who is your favourite athlete in any code and level, and why?
Steve Prefontaine, I liked the way he raced, his attitude to sport and his respect for other athletes. "To give anything but your best, is to sacrifice the gift", I like.
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What was your very first job and what other jobs have you had in your lifetime?
I've worked in the family business, Planet Bike, from day one. Did some maths tutoring at number works while I was away in Palmerston North learning how to swim properly.
What did your parents want you to be when you were younger?
I actually have no idea, but I don't think they ever would have thought that triathlon would have taken me to the places it has around the world, or I'd be still madly chasing the circuit all these years.
What is something you would tell your 16-year-old self?
You don't need the backing of a national federation to make it as an athlete. There are always more opportunities and different ways of training/racing outside of what a federation does.
What has been your biggest personal achievement and why?
I started swimming very late, didn't actually learn to swim until I was 13 and I was put into a swimsation learn to swim set up at the pool to just be able to survive a triathlon swim. To go from there to the standard that I am happy with has taken an unbelievable amount of work. Last year at World Champs when I led out of the swim it was a massive moment, I struggled with my swimming for so long to go from that to leading World Champs was a special moment for me.
What five words do you think your closest friends would use to describe you?
Competitive, Motivated, bluntly honest, fun and I hope humble.
Where is your favourite place in the Bay and why?
Whakarewarewa Forest, speaks for itself I think.
Tell us three things people may not know about you:
I didn't learn to swim until I was 13.
Horrific with anything that involves co-ordination.
Scared of heights.