13-YEAR-OLD Fremantle athlete Ava Rodgers already has a trophy cabinet bursting at the seams, but she’s aiming to hit new heights at the triathlon national championships this month.
Rodgers was selected for the School Sport triathlon state team after a bumper athletic season that included winning the Rockingham Foreshore Triathlon in the 12-13 age category, taking home gold in the U14 WA open water 500m swim race at Coogee Beach, smashing the 500m open swim record for the Fremantle Port Swim Club, and winning silver in the the 4 x 400m State Little Athletics Relay Championships.
It’s Rodgers’ first year competing in the 12-13 age group of the State Triathlete of the Year, but she’s top of the leaderboard and will be hard to catch with only two races to go. Rodgers says she first got into triathlons after watching her dad compete in them.
“I was attracted to triathlons because I run at least three times a week and swim four to five times a week and I’m quite good in competing in both sports separately, so I thought why not bring it all together and do a triathlon and I realised that I loved it!” says Rodgers, who is a member of the Fremantle Port Swim club and Fremantle Triathlon club.
She says her favourite part of the triathlon is cycling.
“It is very technical, having to know what gears to change at what specific time, to know how to draft off other riders in a draft legal race.
“I don’t have much time to bike train so I rely on my fitness from running to get me through at the moment.
“The toughest leg for me would be the run leg. While the swim leg is really physical (particularly around the buoys) the last run leg is challenging mentally and physically.
“Having to run straight after swimming and riding is tough on your body. It’s also mentally tough, your body is telling you to give up and if you listen your form starts to drop and you’ve already lost.”
In 2021 and 2022 she was selected for the WA cross country state team in her age group.
So what goes through Rodgers’ mind when she’s competing in these gruelling events?
“I usually have a chorus of a song stuck in my head on repeat. I also think about what has been recently going on in my life like what tests I have coming up.
But mostly I think about how I can make my parents, teachers, coaches, and friends proud by pushing through to the finish line.”
The Methodist Ladies’ College student just turned 13 and when she’s not busy training she likes to do what most young teens do – hang out with friends and watch movies – but she’s also keen to get other young folk into sport.
“I like to finish off my homework and study so I can have some free time to post on my social media channels. I like to use those platforms to inspire and encourage girls to stay in sport, because drop out rates are huge for girls at my age. Sport is so important for our future careers.”
The School Sport triathlon national championships will be held in Devonport, Tasmania from March 13-16.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK