Maitland: Bermuda full of triathlon potential
Jack Maitland believes Bermuda has the potential to implement a dedicated triathlon pathway to enable talented youngsters to follow in the footsteps of world champion Flora Duffy.
A highly respected coach, Maitland was a major instigator and long-term head coach of the Leeds Triathlon Centre, which played an instrumental role in the successes of British elite triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, Vicky Holland and Non Stanford.
Maitland spent time on the island over the past week, passing on his expertise to young triathletes in a number of clinics and held workshops for coaches across a number of sports.
He was also on hand to cast his eye over the junior races in the Aon Bermuda National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Clearwater Beach last Sunday.
From his short time in Bermuda, Maitland believes the foundations are in place to emulate what he achieved in England, albeit on a smaller scale.
“Bermuda could definitely do something similar to what I did in Leeds, even if it’s on a smaller scale,” Maitland said.
“There are some obvious strengths and advantages already in place such as the climate and the terrain. Add to that the influence of Flora Duffy and the passion towards triathlon already, a small place like this can certainly enjoy some success.
“I’m in no doubt the potential is here and capabilities could be here and that’s very encouraging. All it needs is some expertise and development. It took me 11 years to take Alistair Brownlee to an Olympic gold medallist, we’re talking a good number of years to see that full development.
“I don’t see why Bermuda can’t create and grow something similar, for me it is certainly a realistic ambition.”
While the undoubted potential on the island is certainly evident, Maitland warned that without the right infrastructure being put in place, aspirations of unearthing another elite-level athlete like Duffy could be difficult.
“Bermuda absolutely has a proven record and foundation of producing triathletes from this little island, just look at Flora Duffy and Tyler Butterfield,” he added.
“However, the biggest problem here is that there isn’t really a pathway from the junior programmes through the age groups. What you see is a lot of participation within the younger ages and then quite a drop off in numbers.
“That is a universal problem, so not just within Bermuda and certainly not just within triathlon. There are a number of reasons for that such as young people playing a lot of different sports and then specialise as they get older as well as outside influences and pressures.
“There can also be issues with athletes’ patience and being discouraged by not seeing immediate progress. It even happened with Flora, she spent some years away from the sport and then came back and became successful; athletes’ pathways can be very different.
“There is definitely a need for some structure and also development of coaches. There is a gap at the moment and so if you can create top-level coaches and have good young triathletes then you have the formula for success.
“The Tri-Hedz junior programme is already in place in Bermuda which is great but there is definitely a need for something similar for athletes through all the ages,” he said.
“Flora Duffy is also an obvious massive advantage for trying to grow the sport here, as is hosting the ITU races on island, where ever you go you are reminded of the sport.
“Flora went off island to develop and was guided overseas. Bermuda needs home-based coaching infrastructure if it wants to develop athletes here.
“We had a similar effect in Leeds where once were saw a little success things really took off and other athletes came to us because of that.
“If that can be achieved then there is definitely a great chance for some of the talented youngsters to progress in Bermuda and make a good career out of the sport.”
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