The New Zealand Secondary School Duathlon Championships held in Invercargill this past weekend featured small but highly competitive fields and fast racing under sunny skies at Teretonga Park.
The U19 Boys race was won by James Corbett from St Peter’s School, Cambridge.
James finished ahead of second to sixth placegetters Lachie Baird (Verdon College), Max Erkes (Francis Douglas Memorial College), Laurie Watson (Mt Aspiring College), Jack Staples (St Bede’s College) and Kaleb Hayes (Waitaki Boys’ High School).
The U19 Boys race comprised a two-lap 5km run around the outside 2.6km track, followed by an 8-lap, 20.8km cycle leg around the same course and then the final transition for a two-lap 2.2km inner track run.
James said the race went really well. “ Before the start, I was really nervous as I have raced Jaxon [NZSS U19 Boys triathlon champion out of Southland Boys’ High School, didn't finish this race], Max and Lachie before and know they are strong competitors that have done really well his season and I knew it would be really tough to beat them,” he said.
How did the race pan out? “With a new coach this year I felt confident and wanted to show that. I set off fast in the first run to gain the lead. I was then passed on the bike by Lachie about half way through. I fought hard to stay near him and as I came off the bike I made sure to have a quick transition to be first out on the run. I set off at a fast pace and lucky my legs held to be able to pull away and win the race.”
James said winning this race has given him confidence ahead of the summer season of racing, after winning the NZSS U16 Triathlon last year in Nelson. “A highlight for me was winning NZSS U16 race. I was disappointed with my NZSS triathlon nationals this year, so winning the NZSS duathlon was a boost.”
James finished eighth behind winner Jaxon and with Lachie seventh and Max 10th, at the NZSS U19 triathlon race in New Plymouth in late March,
James has been training hard over winter “ I’ve recently moved coaches to Craig Kirkwood. The training has been great. I typically swim four times a week with Carl Gordon who has helped me a lot and the squad is fun. I bike four times a week and run five times.”
“Luckily being in Cambridge I'm surrounded by amazing athletes that push me and support me to be my best. At St Peter’s there are other students I can train with to keep things interesting and fun.”
James, who is year 12 at St Peter’s, spent several years living overseas, where he started triathlons.
With a New Zealand mother and an Irish dad, he was born in Singapore and did a lot of growing up in Asia. “I started off mad keen on rugby when we were living in Singapore and New Zealand the first time around. But when we left NZ for Manila in 2013 and then on to Singapore in 2015, I found it harder to keep developing in rugby.”
His love for competing in sport saw him turn to swimming and running.
“My love for running started in Manila where I had great support and encouragement from my school coaches and my friends’ parents as I found my feet. I think running is still my strength. When we moved back to Singapore in 2015, I started cycling and completed my first triathlon - on a mountain bike - and loved it.
“I did well on the local scene but decided to move to St Peter’s Cambridge as a boarder to improve and compete more. The first year was tough. Year by year, I have been gaining more experience. There are so many great triathletes in New Zealand every race is a challenge which is fantastic.”
As well as winning the U16 NZSS race in 2018, other highlights were the few ITU races he has competed in and been pleased with his performances for his age. “It certainly is another level of racing and I hope to do more of it. I’ve qualified for both Duathlon and Triathlon age group World Championships this year but not going as I really have to focus on my school work. I loved the age group World Championship experience last year in the Gold Coast.”
In the short term, there is a small break in the triathlon season and he will take this time to get a good base of training in. He will also be participating in a cycling series in the Waikato as part of a team, while he also competes in middle distance running on the athletics track.
James Corbett – last two years achievements:
NZSS National Duathlon U19 - 1st
Tri NZ Duathlon Sprint Champs - 3rd (2nd in age group U19). Qualified Duathlon World Champs
NZSS Triathlon individual U19 - 8th
NZSS National Triathlon U19 team - 1st
Suzuki Tri NZ Sprint champs 16- 19 - 8th. Qualified for age group World Champs
Devonport OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Championship Juniors - 24th
NZSS National Triathlon individual U16 - 1st
Suzuki Tri NZ Sprint champs 16- 19 - 12th; Qualified for age group World Champs
ITU World Champs, Gold Coast U19 - 37th
WBOP SS tri individual and team - 1st
WBOP SS Duathlon individual and team - 1st
WBOP SS cross-country -3rd
Wbop 1500m - 2nd
WBOP 3000m - 2nd
2019 NZSS Duathlon Championships – full results:
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