Fifteen-year-old Jackson Konkin is quickly proving to be one of the best athletes in B.C. in any age group at any level as he gets set to compete in the Canadian Sprint triathlon championship in Magog, Que. this weekend.
The J. L. Crowe student has already had a competitive summer competing in the AAA swim meet in Victoria before tackling the 5-kilometre open water swim championship on Thetis Lake near Victoria on July 6 where he finished 10th against some of Canada’s top swimmers.
Then, just for kicks, the Trail native decided to tackle the CortoFondo at the Axel Merckx GranFondo in Penticton last week, cycling the 55 kilometre portion of the prestigious road bike race through the Okanagan city.
The race featured over 1,200 riders, and Konkin took his place near the front of the pack to get a good start.
“I was not expecting a lot,” said Konkin from his summer home in Christina Lake. “It was my first real road race, definitely the longest I’d ever done. We started on a hill which was good for me, because I’m so light, and I can just fly up the hill so I got up right to the front. And then there was a downhill, so all the fast guys maneuvering down the hill, and I’m getting left behind, cause I’m inexperienced and not knowing what to do.”
Konkin would stick with the front runners, in a pack of about 100 riders he would break away on the Summerland Hill and weave through the city of Penticton where, heading into the homestretch, he would catch 14-year-old competitive road racer Connor Martin of Kelowna.
“I was thinking I must be in second, because this is one of the fastest kids in Canada,” said Konkin.
“So I was right on his wheel, and I made the mistake of showing myself to him, because he didn’t know I was behind him so I could have snuck my way all the way to the end and sprinted ahead of him, but he noticed me and, of course, one of the best cyclists in Canada he knows all the tricks and strategies so I really didn’t stand a chance against him at that point.”
However, Konkin would finish runnerup just seconds behind the Kelowna rider, an incredible result for an athlete whose main focus is on the triathlon.
“This is a great experience, going into these bike races will definitely help me a lot in the triathlon.”
Konkin comes by his talent honestly, as his father Mike is a dedicated athlete and coach who came seventh in the same CortoFondo and competed in and finished the Coeur d’Alene Ironman Triathlon on June 28 in 107 F heat.
Jackson won his first Christina Lake triathlon when he was 13, captured three bronze medals at the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo last year, was first in his age group earlier this summer in Vancouver at the North Shore Triathlon, and claimed third overall at this year’s Wasa Lake Triathlon. His sites are set firmly on the Canadian Triathlon championship in Quebec this week where he will compete in the Youth elite category, which entails a 500 metre swim, 10-km bike and a four-km run.
And while Konkin is confident in his ability and his training, he will be swimming in unknown waters when he travels to Quebec.
“I’m not exactly sure how I’ll do, because I’ve only raced against people from B.C. And Alberta, this area, and I’m going to go over there and race against the fastest kids from all of Canada, and Quebec and Ontario, but I think I’ll go out on a limb and say top-10.”
And if Konkin’s genes and training is any indication, he may do even better than that. A typical training day for Konkin when he is at Christina Lake in the summer, is a morning warm up, followed by a 3-4 km. swim across Christina Lake and back. Around noon he’ll ride for one to two hours, and depending on his training cycle, he’ll follow it up with a 5-10 km run. Around 4 p.m. he’ll do dry land training followed by another swim across the lake.
“That’s a typical day in the lake,” said Konkin. “I enjoy it, it would be pretty tough doing all that training if I didn’t.”
Konkin also swam in the Kelowna Open Water swim this past weekend in Kelowna as a primer for Quebec.
“I’ve been training a lot – and the bike racing, the open-water swims, everything is improving my triathlon and that’s my main goal.”
He also has his sites set on Edmonton in September, where he and his dad will watch the ITU World Triathlon, and where Jackson will also compete in the Youth Elite category.
As for the future, Konkin has no plans of slowing down, and if he keeps up this pace, he’ll soon be competing against the world’s best.
“I am going to go as far as I can,” said Konkin. “I’ll definitely be doing it for the rest of my life doesn’t matter how good I get.”