HIT THE TRACK:
Ella Walsgott, 13, of Horsham will travel to Sydney in April to compete in the Australian Schools Triathlon Festival. The youngster will use a Horsham Triathlon this weekend as part of her preparation for the national titles.
Months of hard work and dedication have paid off for Horsham teenager Ella Walsgott, who will travel to Sydney in April to compete in this year’s Australian Schools Triathlon Festival.
Ella, 13, has won selection in School Sports Victoria’s state triathlon team after impressing at trials late last year.
Ella, who set her sights on the state team 14 months ago, said she was thrilled to have an opportunity to compete with and against some of the best young triathletes from across the country.
“I wanted to make the team for a while, but it came as a surprise,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to go.”
Ella had to participate in at least two of three trials to qualify for selection.
She competed in Yarrawonga in October and Mordialloc in December, but missed the third trial in Elwood.
She placed highly enough in her two performances to qualify for the junior 13-14 team.
Ella’s mother Katie Walsgott said the remaining five girls in the team hailed from metropolitan Melbourne.
She said Ella would benefit from competing in a team environment.
“She has a lot of support from adult triathletes in Horsham, but it will be a great experience for her to train with and participate with other people her own age on a similar level,” she said.
“It’s a good chance to network with like-minded kids and could also open up future junior development opportunities, because she is isolated from a lot of them at the moment. “Geographically she is at a disadvantage.”
When Ella became interested in triathlons, Mrs Walsgott decided to complete a course on the subject in Melbourne.
“I wanted to be able to help her through it, because there are no junior triathlon clubs or groups here,” she said.
It was through the course Mrs Walsgott met Melbourne-based triathlon coach Mat Tippett.
“Ella started working with him in November 2015. Since then, she has consistently followed a training program and is slowly seeing improvements in all three disciplines,” Mrs Walsgott said.
“We’ve met a few triathletes and past Olympic triathletes in the past year or so and they all say the same thing – you need to follow a program.
“Ella’s decided to drop a few other things this year to focus on her training, which her dad and I were glad was her decision and not something we had to push.
“She has to make sacrifices to fit in all her training and compete.”
Ella said she completed 10 to 15 training sessions a week. “My coach sends a program online every week,” she said.
“It includes a couple of hard training sessions a week, and some that are more laid-back.
“I do running, cycling and swimming sessions so I can get the full training experience for all of the events.”
Ella said she looked forward to seeing how she fared in Saturday’s Horsham Triathlon.
“I’ve done it for the past five years. I’d always enjoyed running and swimming and I decided a few years ago to put it together with cycling and give triathlons a go,” she said. “The first three years I did the Horsham kids version and in the past two years I did the adult short-course. Last year I finished second in the women’s category.
“I’m doing the adult short course again this year because it’s the same distance as the one in Sydney.”
Mrs Walsgott urged Wimmera youth to consider participating in the junior triathlon on Saturday.
“I’d encourage young people who are interested to give it a go and see if they like it,” she said.
“The Horsham tri is a good one to start with, it’s not intimidating and there is a really friendly atmosphere.
“Ella would love to have some more people to train and compete with.
“She’s part of the Horsham Sharks, but apart from swimming, she does a lot of training by herself.”
Ella’s teachers at Horsham College have also recognised her dedication to achieving her goal.
Sports co-ordinator Jaymi O’connor congratulated Ella on her efforts.
“Ella was the recipient of the Horsham College Excellence in Sports Award for year seven in 2016,” she said.
“She received this award for her high achievements in cross country, swimming and athletics through the school year.
“Being selected in the team is a result of the high level of commitment and dedication she puts into her training.
“We are very excited for her to be given such a wonderful opportunity.”
Ella said she would seek sponsors and start fundraising in the near future to help fund her Sydney campaign.
SYDNEY BOUND: Ella Walsgott has won selection in this year’s Australian Schools Triathlon Festival.