Tri and You Shall Succeed
Taupō’s Nicole van der Kaay speaks perseverance and patience . . .
Turning the tables on a tri-ing situation is what local elite athlete Nicole van der Kaay doesn’t shy away from. When 2020’s March lockdown came into force – throwing more than one curve ball at the triathlete who was in full throttle training mode for the Tokyo Olympics – she spun the negatives into positives.
“COVID-19 did turn the tables on our training programme last year but it also opened up new avenues,” she explains. “One of the coolest things I got into during lockdown was Zwift – a virtual cycle and running app – which I played online with athletes from all over the world. It kept us all connected and spurred us on.”
2020 also gifted the triathlete and her team extra time to focus on meeting their edge. “Most of the other triathlon teams competing in the Olympics are older than us. So as a younger squad, COVID-19 has actually afforded us more time to build our strength and develop our muscular endurance. ”
All in it together
Still awaiting to hear if she has qualified for the New Zealand Olympic Triathlon team at the time of henry heading to the printers, Nicole is optimistic yet realistic about what to expect when touching down on Tokyo soil.
“Competing in a COVID-19 environment requires both perseverance and patience. We can’t say exactly what training conditions, rules and regulations we’ll face – but we’re braced for restrictions and will work with what we’ve got,” she says. “Ultimately, it’s not just about the endgame, it’s the process and as a team we’re all on the same page.”
The Kiwi way
Staying open-minded is a trait Nicole holds fast too. As a young person she turned a hand to “anything and everything sport and hobby wise” and her family are renowned for their Number 8 wire thinking.
“Dad’s swimming pool construction in the deer shed for me during lockdown is a good example,” she laughs. “It worked a treat. We’ve been brought up with the mindset where there’s a will there’s a way – having that family ethos has been invaluable.”
Which is why the future is looking less trying and more inspiring for this sporting go-getter. “I’ve just completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology, and in the future, I’d also like to look at physio – I enjoy that side of things and it would be a great way to give back to the sporting community. I think so many industries and sectors lend themselves to each other – there are so many opportunities to be had if you’re prepared to dig your heels in.”