Young Aussie Penny Slater claims a huge win at Xterra Asia Pacific championships in Kenting Taiwan

Photo Credit: Xterra – Carel Du Plessis
The 22yr old dual World Under 23 and Australian cross triathlon champion can no longer be described as an up and comer after storming to victory in a stacked field last weekend at the Xterra Asia Pacific Championship. Slater’s progression in cross triathlon has been rapid. With Xterra Rotorua next weekend Penny has taken five minutes out of her busy schedule to chat with us.

Trizone: Tell us, who is Penny Slater?

Penny Slater: Well that’s a tough one because even though I am only young I have been lucky enough to do a lot of amazing things in my short 22 years on this earth.  I’m a student with a bachelor of exercise science and am currently studying a bachelor of secondary teaching for science and PE. Apart from being an athlete I love to spend time with my family, enjoying good coffee, food and beers as well as reading and writing when I have the time. I also enjoy going for a horse ride with my sisters, surfing during summer and hanging out with my three favourite doggos.  I am so lucky to be able to travel and race the world racing triathlon and I remind myself of this privilege every day.

Trizone: How did you get your start in triathlon?

Penny: I didn’t start triathlon until I was 17 years old. Initially I played hockey and one of my friends who I played with suggested that we should do the local triathlon club’s novice program over the summer to keep our fitness up over the off-season.

”I did that first season of triathlon as a novice and it’s safe to say I was hooked from there!”

A couple of years after that I purchased a mountain bike and then discovered off-road triathlon and absolutely loved it so haven’t looked back!

Trizone: You progressed rapidly. What has been your secret? Do you have a coach?

Penny: I did that first season of triathlon as a novice and it’s safe to say I was hooked from there! A couple of years after that I purchased a mountain bike and then discovered off-road triathlon and absolutely loved it so haven’t looked back!

Trizone: You progressed rapidly. What has been your secret? Do you have a coach?

Penny: I’ve raced two years as a professional mainly focusing on Xterra. Last year I raced a lot and gained some invaluable experiences. However both my coach Jacqui Allen of B&J Racing and I felt I under performed last year and some changes needed to be made for me to continue to improve and be at the pointy end of the field in races.  Over our Aussie summer I really focused on the 1 percenters that can add up.

”I’ve really focused on my diet, making sure that I am sticking to the right zones in training and focusing on recovery between sessions.”

But one of the biggest things I’ve changed is my mental mindset.  This year is all about trusting the process, remaining calm in races and not worrying about results or what anyone else is doing but just on what I have control over. This has been a huge thing for me and has allowed me to let go of my ego, which means I am more relaxed and focused. This all led to the best performance of my career by far last weekend winning Xterra Asia Pacific Championships in the best field of women this race has probably ever seen.  I could not have achieved any of this without my awesome coach Jacqui Allen who is also my fellow competitor and training partner. She has helped me every step of the way and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Trizone: How do you juggle uni, work and being a professional athlete?

Penny: It’s not always easy but I just have to be really organised. I think that it helps that I am super motivated to finish my uni degree as well as perform well at the top level in triathlon. I wouldn’t do either of them if I didn’t love them and I think it is really important to have something after sport, hence the university degree. And work, well I don’t love it but it’s a necessary evil for me to be able to fund my travels for races until I can establish myself as ‘professional’ athlete and gain sponsorship.  For now it makes the results all the more satisfying whilst juggling everything.

Trizone: When all your training is finished what can we find you doing?

Penny: Like I mentioned earlier I am an avid coffee drinker so you will quite often find me in a café finding the best brew or at home whipping something up on my many coffee instruments! I of course love spending time with my family and friends and our dogs just hanging out and enjoying a few Craft beers. To relax I like to read in my back yard in the sun or get down to the beach if I can.

Trizone: You are off to a flying start for 2019. What does the season ahead look like?

Penny: This is absolutely a dream start to the season. I wasn’t expecting it if I’m honest. I knew I had my best summer of training yet but I didn’t realise it was good enough to win APAC champs. This just sets me up for an exciting season ahead I think. This weekend I head to Xterra Rotorua, then ITU Cross triathlon world championships at the end of April where I hope to defend my U23 World title. The rest of the year will see me head to Tahiti, Japan and China for the rest of the Xterra Asia tour as well as Europe for the Xterra European Championships and then finally Xterra worlds in Maui at the end of October. I’m really excited to see what I can do the rest of the year and hope I can keep up the good form.

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