Hawley keen to make most of opportunity
Erica Hawley is determined to make the most of her “amazing opportunity” as she prepares to represent Bermuda at her first major competition.
The 19-year-old triathlete admits it still feels surreal to be at the Commonwealth Games, the third largest multi-sport event in the world behind the Olympic Games and Asian Games.
“I’m still young and it’s just a taster to see what I’m getting myself into,” said Hawley, who races on Thursday.
“I don’t expect to win medals or anything. It’s going to be a great experience and my goal is to just have a good race. I’ll try not to think about it being the Commonwealth Games.
“I want to see how far I can get in triathlon. Hopefully the Commonwealth Games will keep pushing me in that direction.”
The University of Colorado student took the semester off to prepare for the Gold Coast by training in Tucson, Arizona, with the Origin Performance squad.
She also raced in the New Plymouth ITU World Cup in New Zealand two weekends ago, finishing 31st in a time of 1hr 9min 46sec.
It was Hawley’s debut in the ITU World Cup, a race won by Kirsten Kasper, of the United States, in 1:03:20.
“Not having to be in school has really helped with training,” Hawley said. “It’s allowed me to have a lot more one-on-one time with my coach Ian O’Brien.
“Having my coach here on the Gold Coast is a bonus. Russell White, one of my team-mates, is also here representing Ireland.”
Hawley has plenty of high-level experience at the junior level, having competed at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, finishing 29th, and at the ITU Junior World Championships in Rotterdam in September, placing 40th.
She is particularly excited about joining Flora Duffy in the mixed team relay and remembers racing alongside her idol before she started her ascent to the top of the triathlon world.
“I raced in Dallas [at the ITU Patco Pan American Championships] in 2014; Flora came fourth in that race,” Hawley remembers. “The next year she started winning loads of WTS races.
“That’s when I thought, ‘She’s taken the leap’ and that made me realise that anything is possible. She’s definitely someone I look up to.
“It’s unreal that we have a team in the mixed relay. It’s another opportunity to race.”
Hawley has also drawn inspiration from her mother Julia Hawley, a well-known local triathlete, who came 44th in the 50-54 age group at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2014.
“I did all of the Iron Kids, Dolphins, Sharks and Pacers,” she added. “There’s always a huge element for triathlon in Bermuda.
“My mom always encouraged me to do that. The real moment was watching her race in Hawaii, seeing the pros coming down the finish line. That was really awesome; she’s had a huge impact on me.”
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