Ottawa triathlete hoping to haul hardware to university

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Haileigh Chenier (Photo: Christian Martin)

By Charlie Pinkerton

Bytown Storm’s Haileigh Chenier’s last race day of the season might feel more like a quadrathlon.

The 19-year-old triathlete will depart for the frenzy of university move-in immediately after she tries put a cap on her best year yet in the sport by scoring a provincial medal at the provincial series finale on Aug. 31.

Coming from a competitive swimming background, Chenier’s competed in triathlon since 2012. Whereas swimming had become monotonous the Ottawa athlete, she found the multifaceted nature of triathlon to be compelling.

“I really love the challenge of three different sports,” Chenier told the Ottawa Sportspage in a phone interview following a mid-August training session.

It wasn’t until two years ago that she began taking triathlon seriously.

“I started to understand the concept of performing, and I wasn’t seeing the result I wanted, so I just decided – and the coaches were talking to me as well, they were like, ‘if you want to succeed, you’ve got to start putting in a lot more work’ – and I haven’t looked back since then.”

While the bike (her favourite) and the swim are typically the strongest portions of her race, the West Carleton Secondary School grad said that this summer all aspects of her race have come together for her in competition.

That was especially evident in the 2nd place finish she secured at the National Capital Triathlon, which matched her result in an earlier Ontario Cup race in Lakefield.

At the Ottawa race, she had the fastest run time among junior girls. Her swim and bike times were both 3rd best in her classification in that race.

Fellow Storm athlete Miguel Alvarez also placed 2nd in the junior men’s division at the locally held event. At the Lakefield race he finished 5th.

For Chenier, the lone blemish on what’s otherwise been an impressive year in Ontario Cup events was failing to finish the race held in Toronto. Her bike was broken in a crash and she wasn’t able to continue past the second stage.

According to her, the upcoming Ontario Triathlon championships in Welland at the end of August has been her focus all summer.

Another top three finish at that event would almost certainly be enough to secure her a spot on the cumulative provincial podium, which takes into account racers’ top three finishes.

“It would be nice to finish like that in my last year as a junior,” Chenier said.

With hopefully a medal around her neck, she won’t head far to Guelph University, where she’ll start classes as a first-year student just days later. Since triathlon isn’t recognized as a varsity sport in Ontario University Athletics (or nationally in U Sports), Chenier plans on joining a local triathlon club in Guelph to continue training for competition next spring.

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