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The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY SARAH SCULLY

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.

Pic­ture: PAUL CARRACHER

Pic­ture: PAUL CARRACHER

SYD­NEY BOUND: Ella Wals­gott has won se­lec­tion in this year’s Aus­tralian Schools Triathlon Fes­ti­val.

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