Lifetime Triathlon, a well balanced synergy of three sports.
As far as i can remember there was almost none, to maybe one triathlon event held on the island of Cyprus circa late 80s. In San Diego, California the birthplace of the sport of Triathlon, the first event was held in the 70s, and to be more specific in 1974, by coincidence my year of birth! Historical info, a few of my life experiences in triathlon, and my relevance to the world of triathlon, follows below.
I was coming from a swimming background, as I swum competitively for the Nicosia Swimming Club up until 1991, with out any international distinctions. Triathlon in my life has started in 1988 in a beautiful Limassol bay with a small local event organized at the time by the Famagusta Swim club. It was at that time a pioneer initiative from the club to organize something like that , and Cyprus based athletes from all over the island grabbed the opportunity and raced it. Mostly swimmers and a handful of cyclists showed up at the event with loud and vivid remarks at the end! The same event continued on for 1989 and 1990 and maybe later if I can remember well, with the similar crowd and a few new enthusiastic participants at the time.
The spark was lit from there on, and with sovereign UK bases on the island at the time, triathlon organizers (military sportsmen) were taking advantage of the beach front locations putting up events every 3-4 months. That was interesting because there was a good vibe stemming out of these events each time, and the atmosphere was so friendly and with good sportsmanship to go around.
The events organized by the Swim clubs were at best one per year but the UK organizers kept the Triathlon sport going adding their events as well in Akrotiri, and the beautiful Happy Valley area in the early 90s. I do remember the beautiful set-up at the time by Pissouri bay, with few but happy athletes showing up on the start line. In terms of Cyprus athletes taking part, the start list was not as rich as it is today, (good old friends Soteris Skoutarides and Pola Hadjipapa still running till today) but there was some spark gradually being lit. The Kyrenia swim club Coach at the time Nicos Choulis, a great advocate of the sport, and a good friend, was a supporter of such events and i remember vividly his kind and encouraging manner which he took young athletes including me at such events to partake.
Those events were injected each summer during my international studies in Sports Science, and definitely kept the motivation to proceed in bigger Triathlons in the USA.
A great first intro for me in triathlons in the USA, took place at Millerton lake near Fresno, CA which was rural and quiet, but beautiful enough to allow athletes take in the experience with care. Wildflower in San Louis Obispo, and Aptos, were big at the time ( the early 90s ) local California events that I remember giving me a good kick in the b… and waking me up to work harder for more future triathlon training. The relocation that deemed necessary for my studies to the state of Alabama, was a success, since the school, was very big into sports, collegiate and recreational, and the crowd that resided there was also big into endurance sports. So I fitted right in, and events like Powerman Alabama, Camp Partlow duathlon, Memphis in May Tri, and Gulf Coast Half Ironman Tri, were some of the fond memories of the area at that time. Good old friends that resided there and share cherish- able memories were amongst others, Dan Harle, Shane Emplaincourt, David Troy, Alec Wheeler, Tim McCauley. All big into endurance sports and amicable training partners, that gave a good sense of Southern USA warmth. Not to be forgotten in my sporting experiences was the Rocket City Marathon, in Huntsville Alabama, a shaky 1st try at the Marathon distance, that served as my qualifier to get me the time to be able to race the 1999 cold “ Boston Marathon” and to grand me the experience of a lifetime. The later on stage in New York area during my first job, marked an even greater chapter in my Triathlon career with the scenic Mighty Hamptons Triathlon, Rye Playland tri, and the trip to St.Croix -Virgin islands – to race the half Ironman in the hilly Carribean. I was lucky enough to meet my boss on day one at my job, Scott Willett which was an enthusiastic triathlete and we became good training partners along with our other French buddy Olivieur Balliet. This scenario created an even nicer picture in cold New York , and together we pushed each other to do races and train systematically.
The triathlon races kept on building up in Europe and in the USA and in 1995 the Cyprus Triathlon Federation is founded. At the time there were a lot less athletes compared to today, and with the spirit and drive of a few key people the sport took baby steps and Cyprus was represented in Triathlons across Europe with athletes (to name a few) , Soteris Nicolaou, Julia Kannava, Denmetris Kadis, Christos Theodorou, Christos Christou, Andri Poyadji , George Pengas, Antoniou Stavros and my self.
(Deceased secretary of Cy Tri Fed friend Lenia Antoniades shown at the right)
The Small Nations Games, took place for more than a decade with participating countries and events in Luxemburg, Malta and Cyprus. The golden era for me was between the years of 1994-2002, while residing in the USA, and visiting my home, the island of Cyprus for the summers, having earned a number of podium finishes and awards as a National Triathlon Champion in the Sprint & Olympic distance.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) had organized many world class events in Europe and outside the zone, with the bar been raised every time and producing a spectacle of this endurance sport. I had the privilege but also honor to start a number of tri races in Europe with the colors of CY, and lived unique experiences. A memorable pic of “my starts” is shown below:
In 2006 my athletic career was marked by my first Ironman Triathlon in Austria. With a sub 11 hours finish time I was super excited to be a part of such an event, at it’s infancy, that nowadays is considered to be ranked amongst the top 3 in popularity Ironman Triathlons in Europe. Plenty of interesting events followed on until today, but to point out a few, the Berlin Marathon, the Lausanne World Championships, and the Nice Ironman Triathlon remain interesting and challenging enough events, every one engraving a unique memory in my brain. Right around the 2006-2007 years is were I gradually started closing my competitive phase of my career.
The “Sideline University” of my last 25 years of sporting activity, gave me a “hard to fix bug” to remain active in the beautifully balanced sport of Triathlon, which I still find as one of the most vivid activities one can engage in to keep well.
*K.N. is an Exercise Physiologist, graduate of the University of Alabama, an ACSM certified Health & Fitness Instructor, holds an ITU Level II Certification as a Triathlon Coach, and is a multiple Ironman & Half Ironman Triathlon finisher. He is coaching Triathletes online, teaches Functional Training at f/3dfts, and performs Exercise Physiology assessments at the Cyprus Sports & Research Center. firstname.lastname@example.org