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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

No Laughing Matter

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanAug 24th 2014
There is a bit of a trend on Social Media at the moment to have a dig at Age Group triathletes, some of which is light hearted and some of which is not. The people that are doing it? Well, some are Age Group triathletes. Some are former triahletes that have returned to a single sport. For the cynical amongst us you might say they found the sport too difficult and the jibes originate from jealousy. But hey, I'm not the cynical type. Often.

So what is the topic of criticism and amusement? It is two fold:

Firstly, that the Age Group triathletes that represent GB take themselves far too seriously. The ammo for that particular gun seems to be some of these athletes think they are elite and basically pro's, blog about their every move (yes, I see the irony there) and have more sponsors than the average F1 team.

And secondly, well, have already touched on this, sponsorship. Some of the criticism here is that some of these athletes are not at the top of their Age Groups and are not worthy of the sponsorship and in fact they are taking funds and resources away from the pro's.

So, on the GB subject. Without any shadow of doubt there is a tiny minority of GB Age Groupers that are a bit, OTT. And the image was not helped by the idiot on the Apprentice who introduced themselves as part of Team GB, just after the Olympics (although they may well have been coerced in to that by the producers). But the vast majority of us spend a fair amount of time explaining the whole GB Age Group thing to non triathetes with sentences that begin typically with “I am not pro or elite, Age Group is just another word for amateur”. Can the sensible amongst us be a little over enthusiastic on the subject at times? Of course, but then why shouldn’t we. It is a huge honour. No, its not pro, its not elite but with that GB logo on your trisuit it adds another dimension on to competing against your rivals. Its also worth remembering that in this country the competition to simply qualify is fierce in a lot of Age Groups. It's not just the quality of the field at the sharp end, its the sheer depth. And its this quality/depth of field means that means to be at the front of an Age Group you do have to train and act like a pro in terms of rest, recovery, strength work, nutrition etc. Is it the fact its so hard to qualify that produces some the jealousy inspired jibes? Probably.

For the sponsorship issue lets look at the not so light hearted taking funds and resources of the pro's accusation. Goes without saying that some of that criticism is aimed at the sponsoring companies. And there is a part of me that has some sympathy here. The idea that having a strong social media presence is rewarded above athletic excellence does go against the grain somewhat. However, you have to be realistic here. Companies will do what’s best for their business, they have too. Plucking figures out the air they can probably sponsor a number of Age Group triathetes for one Pro and possibly have a more direct, and relate able, access to their market place. Basically, its market forces and they change. I suspect in a few years, companies will do another study and find a different way to use their money. In the mean time the top Age Groupers are all sponsored as are all Pro's so its all a bit debatable whether anybody is losing out. But are some of these sponsored athletes, or ambassadors as they are known, believing their own publicity just a little too much or simply fulfilling their obligations to their sponsors? That's probably a little bit of a grey area to be fair.

Finally, I have to say that us Age Group athletes can take a joke and some criticism. After all, its not as if we take ourselves too seriously.
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