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She’s back again: USA Triathlon National Championships

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Senior Samantha Thompson nears the end of the race with the completion of a six mile run.

Senior Samantha Thompson nears the end of the race with the completion of a six mile run.

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Senior Samantha Thompson nears the end of the race with the completion of a six mile run.

Emma McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

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Senior Samantha Thompson is an athlete through and through, her love and commitment to sports can be seen through her dedication to participating in track and cross country at school every year since she was in seventh grade; but not only is Thompson an athlete, she is a triathlete.

This year Thompson participated in her third and fourth triathlons, the 2018 USA Triathlon Regional Championship and the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship, respectively. She finished the 2018 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship 28th in her age group of 17-19 year olds and improved her time from the previous year by 20 minutes.

This year’s regionals were held in El Reno, Okla. on June 2 in an event called “Route 66.” Thompson finished first out of all competitors at regionals therefore qualifying her for nationals, which would be held on Aug. 12th in Cleveland, Ohio.

“In order to achieve her triathlon goals, she has had to learn to micromanage her already demanding schedule, sometimes down to the minute, in order to train to the best of her ability,” Thompson’s father, Jess said.

After training for weeks, the National Championships had finally arrived. The first part of the race, the one mile swim, was especially difficult due to a rainstorm the previous night which caused one and a half foot waves and actually delayed the race by 30 minutes. However, Thompson did not shy away from the challenge and simply powered through on the biking and six mile run to make up time.

“I saw my watch when I came out of the water and I was not happy with the swim time but during the transition time into the bike ride I just tried to clear my head,” Thompson said. “And one thing that I have been working on is to not think negative thoughts or about how much longer I have to run but to rather enjoy it in the moment and that made the rest of the race a lot better.”

The swimming took place in Lake Erie and was followed by a 25 mile bike ride. The bike ride was accompanied by a view of Lake Erie as well as downtown Cleveland and all the sights. To finish off the race was a 6 mile run at a local park.

“The run mentally and physically was the most challenging part because toward the end it is difficult to remember to just enjoy the experience,” Thompson said. “So my mom came up with the idea to set a background on my watch saying ‘Be Brave’ and between that, seeing my grandparents cheering and remembering why I am running all helped enormously.”

Thompson was not just running for herself, but for her little brother as well, who suffers from an eye disease called Choroideremia that will leave him without sight within a few years. Her father came up with the idea to begin a GoFundMe and donate the money to the Choroideremia Research Foundation, and to wear jerseys that promote awareness. Since participating in triathlons is also something that her father used to do, and has gotten back into, when Thompson decided to begin doing them with him, it became an amazing experience for them to share together.

“When Sam was a little girl, I would often be out riding my bike. During those rides I would daydream about the time when I could ride bikes with my kids and now that day has arrived,” Jess said. “There is no question that doing triathlons together has drawn us closer and I am so grateful.”

To be ready for the swimming portion, Thompson and her father would swim three times a week with the Tri OKC Club made up of other triathletes, starting at 5:00 a.m. She also went biking at Lake Hefner frequently to improve her time as well as her endurance to prepare herself for the bike ride that follows the swim. After this is the run, which she trained for by running with track and cross country, and ran on her own time.

“Participating in triathlons has honestly helped me so much in my everyday life,” Thompson said. “I feel it makes me a stronger person mentally because I know that I am able to push through difficult obstacles.”
Last year Thompson competed in her first triathlon, the 2017 USA Triathlon Regional Championship, and finished first place for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship. In the 2017, nationals she finished 36th in her age group.

Contact Emma McCabe at [email protected].

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She’s back again: USA Triathlon National Championships