IF Rahul Jegatheva’s national Under-19s triathlon title wasn’t a convincing display of his competitive edge, then his mad dash home after the event certainly was.
The 16-year-old Perth Modern School student was the first Sandgroper to win his category of the National Aquathlon Championships at Lake Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains on February 24, but desperately wanted to be home the next day because he’d been chosen to carry the Queen’s Baton for its Stirling leg on the way to the Commonwealth Games.
With no flights from Canberra or Sydney getting him home on time, Rahul had to skip the medal ceremony and take a twisting, seven-hour nighttime drive along the Alpine Highway to catch one at 6am in Melbourne.
The Joondanna resident made it on time, running into the Scarborough Beach amphitheatre with his friends and family cheering on.
What makes Rahul’s achievement even more astounding is that he had been floored by the flu for three days before the competition, suffering dehydration and coughing fits right up to the morning of the race.
However, he dug deep and even finished higher than a number of the elite adult competitors, finishing third Australian overall.
“It’s hard to process all that has happened over the weekend,” says Rahul.
“It’s such an honour to win the national title, and to be given the opportunity to to carry the Queen’s Baton.
“I owe a lot to my swim coach, Eoin Carroll of Perth City Swimming Club, my run coach, professor Grant Landers of UWA and all the amazing athletes from the North Coast Triathlon Club with whom I have been participating in their annual Aquathlon series over the years.” Rahul next heads to the International Triathlon Union World Aquathlon Championships in Denmark in July.