A STATE-sponsored junior triathlon academy is being established in Ipoh for development of the sport.
The academy, run by Perak Triathlon Association, is expected to begin operation soon and headed by British coach Dean Ratcliffe.
Association president Quentin William Howell said it was keen on developing the sport here despite the challenges ahead as triathlon is yet to be largely recognised in Malaysia.
“As triathlon is recognised in the Olympics, we will be requiring blood, sweat and tears to ensure the sport reaches greater heights,” he told StarMetro in an interview.
Howell said there were several good triathletes in Perak, so the focus now was on setting the state as a benchmark to grow the sport both nationally and internationally.
“Ratcliffe is a qualified coach from Britain. With his guidance and experience, we are confident of advancing to international competitions within three to five years.
“But for that, we need to build a foundation, and children as young as eight with some form of experience in swimming, running and cycling are encouraged to join the academy,” he added.
Ipoh Try to Tri members at a cycling session. Perak Triathlon Association is scouting for a cycling site before the opening of the junior academy.
“Training for running will be carried out at the tracks within the sports complex but we are still scouting for a proper site for cycling,” said Howell.
He added that a proper space, preferably close to the sports complex, would be provided to the association to hold meetings, conferences, training briefings and to meet parents who want to enrol their children in the academy.
Ratcliffe, who was also present, said he had been on a cycling tour of South-East Asian countries, which ended in Ipoh last year, allowing him to spend some time in the city.
“I found that the sports complex had great facilities that were underutilised. When I had a chance to meet with the state’s representative, I told him about Ipoh’s capability as a centre for triathlon excellence.
“So with my list of requirements and constant communication with the association, I became part of a Facebook group called ‘Ipoh Try to Tri’, through which various programmes and activities were organised. “Soon, the membership started to grow.
“So we have a set of active members but without a proper body, we do not have access to competitions and this is where the academy comes in,” said Ratcliffe, who runs a triathlon club in Britain.
He added that his efforts in promoting the sport led to an offer by Perak youth, sports and human development committee chairman Howard Lee to become state triathlon coach under the association.
“I will be officially taking up the job by next month, after which we will be able to start the training programme at the academy.
“I have good ideas to promote the sport in the state and I hope to see it grow to greater heights,” said Ratcliffe.