PORT SOLENT teenager Sam O’Shea proved he’s a world-beater in the making after his heroics in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.
The 15-year-old, who now resides in the UAE with his family, enlisted the help of Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee before the race.
O’Shea already had organisers, fellow competitors and spectators talking after becoming the prestigious event’s youngest-ever entrant.
But he gave them even more to enthuse over after a gruelling day in the Abu Dhabi heat by claiming the silver medal in the under-19 age-group category.
With the sun beating down on his shoulders, O’Shea completed his 1.5k swim, 100k cycle and 10k run in an impressive time of 4hr 18min 43sec.
It was 11 minutes slower than age-group winner and training partner Paul Mueller, who crossed the finish line in 4.07.31.
But with Mueller two years his senior, O’Shea proved he can be a major threat as he makes his way in the sport.
‘I’m made up. It was such a fantastic race and success like that is a huge bonus,’ said O’Shea, who has a number of duathlon and triathlon winner’s medals to his name since moving to the UAE in 2010.
‘Knowing I was the youngest competitor gave me a bit of a kick, and doing a race like this at such a young age just gives me more and more experience which I need to be successful.
‘Paul, the age-group winner, is a friend of mine. I also train with him and he is a very special athlete.
‘He is 17 and has a lot more experience than me but still only beat me by 11 minutes.
‘From the start I knew I would really have to pull something special out of the bag if I were to beat him but, realistically, it was an unachievable goal.
‘I just focused on my own race and will work on improving my times in the future.
‘I was made up with my time. It was extremely windy out on the bike leg and, when I got off it at around 11am, the heat had really picked up.
‘Because I live in the UAE I’m quite used to it but it was still a bit of a shock to the system.
‘It’s easier for me to train in the heat than training in the cold of the UK, though.
‘I can’t imagine getting into the sea in the UK in March, even with a wetsuit!’
As the race’s youngest competitor, O’Shea was invited to attend a training clinic with Brownlee – who won the main short-course race in Abu Dhabi – and Egyptian triathlete Omar Nour – before the race took place.
There, he picked up many words of advice, which he hopes can help him achieve his goals in the sport.
‘To do that was fantastic, I am very lucky,’ said O’Shea.
‘Alistair is such a great guy and it was a pleasure to meet him.
‘It was so surreal meeting the Olympic champion. He is at the top of the sport at the moment and to get tips off someone of his stature is amazing.
‘As for Omar, he is such a huge personality out here and is so passionate and so willing to share.
‘He said he wants to sit down with me and help me so I am really looking forward to that.’
O’Shea added: ‘I’ve just finished competing in a series of three triathlons in Dubai and won all three under-18 races, with the last coming yesterday.
‘My overall goal is to be able to make a living from what I love – triathlon – and anything like the Olympics or any iron man races would just be a bonus.’