National Triathlon Academy resident Jaz Hedgeland recently won two gold medals at the 2013 Youth Olympics in both the Sprint Women’s & the Teams event. Along with the 2012 Under 19 Australian Triathlon Series Champion gong the young Western Australian Triathlete has her sights now set on taking the next steps to ITU and Rio 2016. Trizone had a few words with this promising young talent.
Trizone: Jaz,thank you for joining us for this interview.
Jaz: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Trizone: Dual gold medallist Youth Olympics does not sound shabby.
Jaz: Yeah, a few weeks prior to the race and I really didn’t think I would end up with that. So I’m absolutely over the moon that I did.
Trizone: Did you have time to celebrate this success before you have other training/racing to do?
Jaz: Well I have a few more races coming up soon, but I have been enjoying the success with my family and friends.
Trizone: I have read that you started in Triathlon by watching the Olympics and telling your parents â€œthat’s what I want to doâ€, it this true and what Olympics was it? Who was racing that inspired you?
Jaz: Yes it is true and it would have been the 2004 Athens Olympics. It was more the actual sport that inspired me I think. I loved many sports as a kid, and to be able to do three different sports in one, I wanted to have a go and thought it would be fun.
Trizone: You have listed that balancing year 12 (which you completed last year) and Triathlon a huge challenge, how did you manage to study and keep training/racing through the year?
Jaz: I knew year 12 was really important, even though I didn’t want to admit it, as it meant study took priority over training. So I kept up as much training as I could, but it was frustrating not being able to do the amount I wanted to, and even more frustrating to decline attending the World Championships. However it allowed me to do well at school, and get it out of the way and now I can really focus on triathlon.
Trizone: Tell us about your coach Stu Durham, has he been your coach for your whole time?
Jaz: He sure has, so sadly he has had to put up with me for the past 9 years. But seriously, he is an outstanding coach! I started off as a TryStar when I was about 9 years old and that’s when he started coaching me, and he has been ever since, and I’m really glad about that. I would definitely be nowhere near the level I’m at today if it wasn’t for Stuart’s coaching, support, advice and hard work.
Trizone: Tell us about your support network, parent and training partners, how have they helped you develop?
Jaz: I’ve been a part of the WA Triathlon Excellence Program, which has helped me out and also the National Talent Academy, which has too been a big help, especially with Giant Bikes sponsoring the NTA program and providing each athlete with a Giant, that has been really helpful. My training partners make training even more fun and help to push me, and words can’t express how much of a help my parents and sister have been. I would definitely not be able to do what I’ve been doing if it wasn’t for them. They have been supporting and helping me the whole entire time, and I’m so lucky to have that.
Trizone: Describe your typical training week then, mixing school with Triathlon?
Jaz: During school terms I would get up about 5 am and go for a training session. Then I’d rush home and get ready for school. Then following school I would come home and start my homework, go to another training session, and then try and finish off my homework. That would be mostly for Monday to Friday, and then I had some time to relax a little on the weekends. Sometimes it was hard trying to fit it all in, but I think I had a good balance with training and school, it kept me busy.
Trizone: And how is that different now that you have finished year 12?
Jaz: Well now I’m able to come home from my morning training session and go back to bed which is really good, so my recovery is better. I’m also able to increase my training a bit, since I don’t have school. But University is starting up soon, so I’m sure my routine will change again.
Trizone: What are you studying at University?
Jaz: Well I have just enrolled in a Bachelor of Science course at Curtin University. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do yet, but I thought I would just start in a course and try and figure out what I want to do as I go along.
Trizone: What is on schedule for 2013, any international races?
Jaz: I have a few more races for this season coming up, I leave for Geelong this Friday to compete in the Australian Elite Sprint Championships. Then two weeks after that I have a race in Devonport, which is the Australian Junior Sprint Championships. Following that I have a race in Wellington which is the Oceania Sprint Championships, and then back to Australia for the Youth Championships in Queensland. So a busy few weeks ahead, but I’m really excited and hopefully I will be selected in the Junior Worlds Team to race in the Junior World Championships in London later this year.
Trizone: and beyond 2013 what is the long term goal? ITU circuit? Rio?
Jaz: Yes, so continuing along the ITU path, after Juniors I plan to compete in U23s. And having Rio in four years, it’s definitely something I have my sights on and would love to be a part of.
Trizone: Have you made good friends in the NTA program? Who pushes you out in those training camps?
Jaz: Yeah definitely. The National Talent Academy have had a few camps now, and it’s really good to meet and train with other junior triathletes from around the country. We all obviously love triathlon and have similar goals, so we all get along really well. In the NTA program we are lucky enough to have really experienced and helpful coaches, including Craig Redman, Keiran Barry, Craig Walton, Peter Robinson and Jan Rehula, and there was also Chris Lang. Most of them attend the camps and push us along.
Trizone: What about current professional Triathletes, who have you met and what advice has you received?
Jaz: I was extremely lucky and privileged to train with Emma Moffat for a few days in Queensland, while she was in herÂ preparation for the London Olympic Games, and it was really great see how an athlete at that level trains. Her focus andÂ determination really motivated me. For the Australian Youth Olympic Festival Emma Jackson was the ambassador for triathlon. It was just really good to have conversations with her and have her there to answer our questions. So I’ve been really lucky to have met with two Olympians and World Champions.
Trizone: Any advice for young budding triathletes out there wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Jaz: As long as you enjoy triathlons, just keep doing what you are doing. I started in the sport because I had an interest for it, and I’ve continued in the sport because I love it. As long as they put in the hard work and have determination to succeeded, I’m sure the young triathletes will get to where they want to go. If it’s worked for me, it can work for them.
Trizone: Anything else we should know about Jaz?
Jaz: I can speak a bit of German, after learning it at school, so I’m hoping to have a triathlon race in Germany sometime.
Trizone: Thanks for your time Jaz, good luck for the up & coming season, one thinks we will be talking a lot with you in the years to come.