Trail triathlete captures bronze at U15 National championship

Jackson Konkin continued his spree of top finishes, as he swam, biked and sprinted his way to a podium finish.

Trail’s Jackson Konkin continued his spree of top finishes, as he swam, biked and sprinted his way to a podium finish at the U15 Canadian triathlon championship in Magog, Que. on Saturday.

Facing close to 60 of Canada’s top triathletes in his age group, the 15-year-old J. L. Crowe student captured the bronze medal in the demanding race in a time of 40 minutes and 17.2 seconds.

“It felt awesome, one of the best experiences in my life so far,” said Konkin.

The 20th running of the Trimemphré Magog race attracted approximately 2,000 of Canadas best triathletes from all age groups in what Konkin describes as one of the most competitive atmospheres he has ever experienced.

Most of the competitors in his age group, like first and second-place finishers Pavlos Antoniades and Filip Manville, belong to ultra-competitive triathlon teams, while Konkin has excelled as the lone triathlete under the tutelage of his father Mike Konkin.

“It’s kind of funny, all the guys show up with their team jersey and stuff and I’m like the one kid without a jersey and I’m just a loner, without a team to hang out with,” laughed Konkin. “It use to intimidate me with my races, but then I started doing better and better, so I got over it, because I know that I’m going to do good. But going over to Quebec, I had no idea, so I was a little nervous.”

Konkin was quickly over the butterflies as he shot out to a terrific start in the water, leading through the whole 500-metre swim, and exiting Lake Memphremagog in first place.

“I knew I had it in the bag after the first 100-metres, because I knew these guys weren’t as strong swimmers as me. I wasn’t crazy fast but fast enough to push them to the limit.”

Jackson came out of the water in 6:37, then laid down the fourth fastest time, 17:37, in the 10-kilometre bike portion,  before finishing strong in the four-km. run, where he held down second spot until the half-way point.

His coach wasn’t surprised at Jackson’s quick start or his ride, but was pleasantly so with Jackson’s run.

“I knew he should be first in the swim based on past results and his ranking in Canadian swimming, and his bike is getting really strong so I knew he would be in the mix on the start of the run,” said coach Konkin. “But the run was the wild card. He pulled off the third fastest run-split so it is starting to catch up to the other two areas.”

Jackson came in 27 seconds behind Manville, and just over a minute back of the front-runner, Antoniades.

“There was two of us working together trying to catch the fast kid (Antoniades), but we just couldn’t do it, he was like a machine,” said Jackson.

Antoniades, a 14-year-old Trois Riviere native, was named Quebec’s 2014 junior athlete of the year after winning all four triathlons in the 2014 National Series, including the U16 Apple Triathlon in Kelowna last August, where Jackson finished seventh.

Konkin’s result in Quebec, then, is all the more impressive. While his strength in the water is undeniable, having swam with the TRAX swim club for a number of years, his progress on the bike and run has put him in the same class as Canada’s elite.

“There are lots of faster teen runners out there, but the trick is to be able to still go fast after going full gas on the bike first and he is starting to get there,” said Mike.

After winning three bronze at the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo last summer, the bronze-medal result on Saturday in Magog further shows just how far he has come in one year.

“It’s nice to see that progress,” said a confident Jackson. “There’s only one way I’m going and that’s forward.”

Jackson will compete in the CYSWOG’n’Fun triathlon in Nelson this weekend, getting the nod to compete in the Sprint portion of the race, generally reserved for 16 and over.

He will cap off the summer with a trip to Edmonton, where he and Mike will watch the ITU World Triathlon championship, and where Jackson will also compete in the Youth Elite category.