Race Coverage

"Suddenly, That Was The Only Thing That Matters"...

KRISTINA_ROTTERDAM.png

 

By Kristina Swenson (kristinaswenson.wixite.com)

 

ROTTERDAM ITU WORLDS RACE REPORT - To most of the world, these are simply three colors. To Americans, these are three colors that represent life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They decorate our flag poles, museums, and historic places. These colors are worn at sporting events, Independence Day parties, and homecoming dress up days. These colors are shot into the sky as fireworks, printed on shirts and shorts, and painted on chests and faces. They are worn proudly by athletes competing at the Olympic Games. They are represented by our military, our police officers, and our government. Wearing them always seems like a special occasion and an honor.

 

Only the best of the best get to compete in them. And somehow, I was one of the lucky few. Triathlon is one of only a few sports that allows amateur athletes to wear the red, white, and blue.

On September 17th, I competed on Team USA in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This race is perhaps the biggest stage an amateur athlete can compete on for sprint and olympic distance triathlon. Tens of thousands of people from 78 different countries traveled to the industrial city to leave their best out there and fight. This isn't just any old race. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race against the best competitors in your sport in your age group in the entire world....

 

The race was incredible. But it wasn't my first time wearing the red, white, and blue. Taking a step back in time, to September of 2016, I was on a similar journey. Instead of my second World Championship in Rotterdam though, I was headed to my first World Championship in Cozumel, Mexico. I remember the race like it was yesterday. And I wish I could say that it was one of my happiest memories. But every time I think about that race, I feel a stab in my gut as I remember the three little letters that no athlete ever wants to see next to my name on the results sheet. DSQ. Disqualification. 

Following the race in Cozumel last year, I wasn't very vocal about what happened. I swam to the wrong side of a swim buoy which is an automatic disqualification. I didn't know it at the time though, so I finished the race and didn't learn of the devastating news until hours later in my hotel room. I left Mexico knowing I had the best race of my life, yet I had nothing to prove it. Not a place, not an official time, not a national ranking. I came back and tried to bury the pain and put on a smile every time someone asked me about the race. I would focus on telling them about the experience rather than the result. And I think I fooled a lot of people. But I didn't fool myself. On the inside, it was something that ate away at me for months. I had an opportunity to compete at the highest level I might ever reach in my sport of triathlon, and I blew it. My family and closest friends that knew what happened were really supportive and encouraging, but there was nothing anyone could say or do that would make those three letters disappear from my name. READ MORE

Comments   

0 #1 Rick Goullaud 2017-10-26 17:51
Just a remarkable and inspiring story to read Kristina. Hard to put into words the feeling your words and experience leave with me. I too had the experience of competing with Team USA in Chicago 2014 and it was exhilarating to be a part of the experience in spite of the freezing cold water and hazardous, crash riddled bike course. Just amazing to pass by so many in the red white and blue USA trisuits with my name on my butt. But yours is special with your grit and motivation to succeed after bitter disappointment in Cozumel. Congrats and maybe I find the the guts to go for it again in my 73 years young. You go girl
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