SCOTT COOPER’S JOUR­NEY TO THE PODIUM

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - T1 - BY HE­LEN POW­ERS

AKONA X 3 lthough Scott Cooper com­peted three times at Kona be­fore mak­ing it to the podium, you won’t hear any­one say it was “third time lucky.” This 29-year-old age-group cham­pion climbed steadily and surely from new­bie to Iron­man, fu­elled by un­com­mon per­se­ver­ance and ded­i­ca­tion, not luck.

Grow­ing up in Ever­ton, Ont., Cooper was into many sports, but run­ning was his main fo­cus. Watch­ing Si­mon Whit­field win gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Aus­tralia, cre­ated an in­ter­est in triathlon and, nine years later, at the age of 21, Cooper ran his first race and was hooked.

Cooper took an “or­ganic” approach to build his en­durance grad­u­ally.

“Just be­cause you be­gin com­pet­ing at a higher level doesn’t mean you can train a lot harder overnight,” he says. “It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of big com­pe­ti­tions and start do­ing work­outs that are far be­yond what you were pre­vi­ously ca­pa­ble of.”

Cooper’s first sea­son con­sisted of sprint races with an Olympic dis­tance right at the end. Sea­son num­ber two was com­pletely Olympic races and wrapped up with a half-dis­tance. His third sea­son, in 2012, was mostly halfdis­tance races and ended with his first full-dis­tance at Iron­man Mont Trem­blant in 2012.

“I think it’s im­por­tant to sim­ply keep chip­ping away with con­sis­tent train­ing and let the body de­velop grad­u­ally,” ex­plains Cooper. “I think this grad­ual in­crease in dis­tance over three years helped me a lot.”

Fin­ish­ing that first full was quite emo­tional.

“I was laugh­ing and tear­ing up all at the same time,” he re­mem­bers. “I don’t think my body knew how to re­act, but it was one of the most proud and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences of my life.”

Al­to­gether, Cooper has run in seven long-dis­tance races and 13 half-dis­tance events, in­clud­ing the ITU Long Dis­tance World Cham­pi­onships.

In 2013, Cooper ful­filled his dream of com­pet­ing at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Kailua-kona, Hawaii, and found be­ing there was awe-in­spir­ing.

“I didn’t have many ex­pec­ta­tions and was hon­estly just hop­ing to sur­vive the weather,” he says.

Cooper re­turned to Kona in 2015, but six months be­fore the race he was in a se­ri­ous bike crash. He had more than a dozen frac­tures in his shoul­der, shoul­der blade and col­lar bone and the ini­tial prog­no­sis was that he might not swim again. Cooper’s arm was im­mo­bile for al­most two months, but friends changed the gears when he got on a sta­tion­ary bike 10 days af­ter surgery. He was back to nor­mal train­ing

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