Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENTS - BY KERRY HALE

De­sirae Ri­de­nour

It’s been a steep learn­ing curve for up-and-com­ing home­grown triath­lete, De­sirae Ri­de­nour. The 19-year-old from Cowichan Bay, B.C., has rapidly be­come a key player in Canada’s bid to rise to the top of the podium in the com­ing years.

Be­lief in her po­ten­tial was firmly re­al­ized af­ter a string of im­pres­sive re­sults in 2017 and 2018, her fi­nal year com­pet­ing as a ju­nior.

As a young­ster, Ri­de­nour swam, ran and played both soc­cer and hockey. In­spired by her older sis­ter – a very ac­com­plished triath­lete in her own right – Ri­de­nour com­peted in her first triathlon when she was only four at an event in Qualicum, B.C.

“We had to swim the width of the pool, ride around in a park­ing lot and run 100 m to the fin­ish line,” she re­calls. “It was just so much fun.”

Show­ing tenac­ity and ob­vi­ous nat­u­ral abil­ity, she pur­sued her swim­ming and run­ning, and she learned more about rid­ing a bike with ef­fi­ciency and speed. With the 2014 B.C. Sum­mer Games in Nanaimo on Van­cou­ver Is­land tak­ing place less than an hour from her home­town, she set her sights on that event. Rac­ing a triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and an F1 (su­per sprint) over two days, she took home three golds and a sil­ver in a dom­i­nat­ing dis­play among B.C.’S premier youth mul­ti­sport ath­letes. Her re­sults pro­vided a per­fect plat­form for a se­ri­ous tilt at the sport.

“The Sum­mer Games were a great step­ping stone in de­vel­op­ing me as an ath­lete and giv­ing me more ex­pe­ri­ence com­pet­ing in a games

set­ting,” she says. “I de­vel­oped a lot of self­be­lief from my re­sults there.”

Over the next two years, Ri­de­nour me­thod­i­cally went about im­prov­ing her swim, bike and run skill set. Ac­co­lades flowed her way through­out 2017 af­ter a stel­lar sea­son of rac­ing. She rat­tled off three straight gold-medal per­for­mances at ma­jor races around the globe, in­clud­ing a Ju­nior Euro­pean Cup race in Hun­gary and the CAMTRI Triathlon Ju­nior Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onships in Ma­gog, Que. Two weeks af­ter her Que­bec re­sult, she tasted fur­ther suc­cess at the Canada Sum­mer Games, held in Win­nipeg, where she earned three gold medals against Canada’s best ju­nior com­peti­tors.

In 2018, she was cho­sen to rep­re­sent Canada at the Com­mon­wealth Games on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast. As part of the Cana­dian mixed re­lay team – a fe­male-male-fe­male-male for­mat in which each racer swims 250 m, cy­cles 7 km and runs 1.5 km be­fore tag­ging off to the next team­mate – the then 18-year-old Ri­de­nour helped Team Canada place fourth in a deep field. An im­pres­sive re­sult, but fin­ish­ing just off the podium proved a dif­fi­cult pill to swal­low.

“There were a few lit­tle mis­takes that cost us in the re­lay and, if we can cor­rect those lit­tle things in the fu­ture, we can def­i­nitely be on the podium in Tokyo in 2020, where the triathlon mixed re­lay makes its Olympic de­but,” Ri­de­nour says. “The Gold Coast was all about next time – specif­i­cally Tokyo. It was a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and there was a lot to be en­cour­aged by.”

Should her am­bi­tions un­fold as planned in Tokyo, it would mean Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in triathlon since Simon Whit­field’s iconic win in Syd­ney in 2000, when triathlon made its Sum­mer Games de­but. Canada’s last Olympic medal in triathlon was Whit­field’s sil­ver in Bei­jing eight years af­ter Syd­ney.

Ri­de­nour is now coached by Jono Hall, the head coach of Triathlon Canada.

“I have been with him for three years now,” ex­plains Ri­de­nour, “and the qual­ity and style of his coach­ing have worked very well in de­vel­op­ing me as a bet­ter ath­lete both phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

Hall echoes Ri­de­nour’s sen­ti­ments about the team’s goal for Tokyo 2020.

“Our goal is to win the mixed re­lay there,” Hall says. “It’s am­bi­tious, but the re­lay is a pri­or­ity for us, and we have ath­letes who are ca­pa­ble of do­ing that and putting it to­gether on the day.”

In terms of her train­ing, Ri­de­nour ex­plains that ev­ery high-vol­ume week is dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on the fo­cus for that par­tic­u­lar week.

“We usu­ally swim six times, bike five times, run six times and do strength work­outs three times a week,” she says.

In the win­ter months, the team is based out of Scotts­dale, Ariz.

Back in Vic­to­ria – home base of Triathlon Canada – the team trains at the Com­mon­wealth Pool, they ride the un­du­lat­ing roads on and around the Saanich Penin­sula, while runs are of­ten held on lo­cal trails around pic­turesque lakes.

“It’s ideal,” says Ri­de­nour, ap­pre­cia­tive of the fact that many of the ath­letes on the squad have to travel far from home to be there, while the Vic­to­ria team base is only a short drive from her home­town.

De­spite her suc­cesses com­pet­ing in ju­nior races, Ri­de­nour con­sid­ers her best re­sult a 23rd place fin­ish at the WTS event held in Abu Dhabi in 2018, where she com­peted in the open elite cat­e­gory for the first time against some of the best short-course fe­male triath­letes in the world. The re­sult gave her an ac­cu­rate snap­shot of where she cur­rently stands and what still needs to be ac­com­plished in or­der to com­pete at the high­est lev­els of the sport. Her 2019 as­pi­ra­tions are bold but at­tain­able. “I plan to in­crease my Olympic rank­ing, achieve a few top 10s in World Cups and in­crease our Olympic team re­lay rank­ing as well,” she says.

With the new year un­der­way, her sights are in­creas­ingly fo­cused on the lure of an Olympic spot in Tokyo 2020.

“That is, with­out doubt, a big ca­reer goal of mine,” she read­ily ad­mits, “and I’ll do all I can to get to the start line.”

Kerry Hale is triath­lete and free­lance jour­nal­ist from Co­mox Val­ley, B.C.

De­sirae Ri­de­nour rac­ing on the Gold Coast at the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games

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