Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Balanced Dion O' Cuinneagain

On camaraderie, skill acquisition and teenage sports

Every Wednesday evening, Dion O' Cuinneagain meets a group of friends for a bike ride.

Weather-permitting, they head up into the trails of Table Mountain overlooking greater Cape Town or alternatively, they gather at a Constantia bike shop for a high-altitude indoor session. This informal gathering has become a ritual, a break in the week of sorts. And irrespective of the weather conditions or cycling form, it is perhaps the social aspect that predominates over who is "king of the hill."

"I really enjoy the camaraderie that cycling has afforded me," says O' Cuinneagain of his midweek foray into the hills. "Sport is a great leveler, no matter the discipline. For me, it is all about fun, friendship, health and fitness."

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Reasoned Hacking

Circumstantial Enhancements
Towards the end of last year I was fortunate enough to do an in-depth blog interview with a former-professional athlete. Whilst the central theme involved retirement from elite sport, the tail end of the Q&A focused on the term "hack", an increasing buzz word in the fitness industry.

"I despise the term “hacking” because it connotes “shortcut”", retorted the interviewee upon my inquiring of some basic lifestyle advice for amateur athletes in pursuit of peak performance. He went onto dismiss various myths in favor of slowing down and mellowing out in pursuit of balance. I have to admit that I was rather relieved to hear of his argument, especially given the countless instances of people looking for the next great "secret" to improved athletic performance.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

An Ode to Escapism

Off the Grid, Artist Dates and Grommets

It is a typical weekday in the office.

Deadlines abound, customer queries and requests are aplenty and lots of PC time ensues.

Earlier this year I hit a personal jackpot by proposing and obtaining approval of scaling back my day job hours to a four day week. Eyebrows were raised by several of my peers when they learned of this achievement; heads started to shake at the terms, which included the relative pay cut. Are you mad, some asked while others harped on the fact of Thursdays being my Fridays, how lucky I am and so on.

While I most certainly count myself as extremely fortunate, I had been planning this move for quite some time. Good things come to those who wait and when the timing felt right, I set forth my proposal, which touched on in a blog post around that time.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Nick Symmonds and Sponsor Loyalty

Staying true to the provider

Nick Symmonds is in a bit of quandary.

The Brooks-sponsored world-class middle distance runner faces possible exclusion from the US National Team for the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing later this month.

The reason: he is refusing to wear Nike apparel - the official clothing sponsor of USATF - to official team functions as per federation regulations.

It is rare for an athlete to stick by his guns so stoically when it comes to such matters of endorsement. Given that many a world-class athlete is barely able to make ends meet, World Championship selection is the ultimate goal for most; their career trajectory literally depends on it. Sponsorship regulations from governing bodies, however unreasonable, tend to be tolerated in favour of the bigger picture that is the opportunity to perform on the world stage.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Dave Hyam's Year at Sea

SAS Protea to Pro Triathlete

With recent news indicating a possible reintroduction of National Service in South Africa, another polarising subject has no doubt been added to dinner table conversations.

Whether one is for or against conscription, perhaps the underlying point is our fractured past, where National Service was - and still is - viewed by many in an unfavourable light due to the politics of the day. A waste of year some might say, or let's leave our militarised culture in the past others might add; whatever your view on military service, there are those who do feel that it can be of benefit to modern day society.

Then there are those who believe that National Service "back in the day" was actually of benefit to them in terms of personal growth. One such individual is David Hyam (pictured above, right), whose career trajectory could be described interesting, or even circuitous.

Friday, 31 July 2015

My year in the peloton: by Ivan Rana

Post Olympic Diversion

With the Rio Olympics less than a year away, the triathlon world is no doubt concentrating on the controversial test event in the Brazilian city this weekend. With no prize money on offer, qualification points is the proverbial carrot dangling for those willing to travel half-way around the world to get to know the course for 2016.

Back on the European mainland, another event has begun, albeit with little fanfare outside the borders of the host country. The Tour of Portugal is a lesser known cycling stage race held around the backwater of the two-wheeled profession that is the Portuguese cycling scene.

What do an ITU World Series race and a two week stage race have in common, one might ask?

Ivan Rana is the answer.

A former ITU World Champion, fifth-placed finisher in Beijing 2008 and now  one of the world's premier long distance triathletes, Rana joins Briton Spencer Smith as one of only two triathletes who can lay claim to a World Championship title as well as having been a registered professional cyclist on the Continent.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

One Photo, A Few Words 5.0

A Teenage Caveman

In a recent blog post, Conrad Stoltz intimated that 2015 marks his final year as a professional triathlete.

The sport of professional triathlon without the “Caveman?” Inconceivable, yes, but all good things do eventually come to end. Now in his early forties, the friendly and engaging South African is moving on with life, the new addition to the Stoltz family being perhaps foremost on his and wife Liezel’s agenda.

But where did it all begin?

The header photo encapsulates the focus and concentration a seventeen Stoltz circa 1991. The location is that Greeker-than-Greek resort known as Club Mykonos, situated just outside the West Coast fishing village of Langebaan. The race is the South African Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships.