Attacking race plan pays off for Jaxon Taylor
On a climb midway through the six-lap bike leg, Southland triathlete Jaxon Taylor began to question whether his attacking race plan was about to become his undoing.
The Academy Southland year two athlete had gapped the field during the transition from the swim to the bike during the final event of the day in New Plymouth - the under 19 boys race - opting to take on the ride solo rather than wait to ride in a bunch.
“There was about a 10m gap and so I just decided to put my head down for the bike and did it solo for six laps,” Jaxon recalled.
“I managed to put 35sec into a chase bunch of about five athletes and that gave me a nice buffer for the run. I knew I just needed to hold that gap for the run, and I managed to do that. It is quite a risky decision to make because you can get halfway and then struggle. There was a point in the third lap where I questioned if I was going to make it. There’s always a risk, but you have to back yourself and I did.”
Emerging from the swim with the second fastest time, Jaxon knew he had to make the bike leg count.
A persistent shin splint issue which had dogged him over the past six months meant he was only able to properly resume his run training a month before nationals.
While his running legs were potentially underdone, his bike legs were strong – well suited to the hilly, technical nature of the New Plymouth course.
Supported by the team at Academy Southland, his coach Jansen Rogers, a podiatrist and with a new pair of shoes from the Shoe Clinic, Jaxon was confident he has now put a six-month struggle with the painful shin injury behind him.
Working with Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie to develop his mental skills has also proved beneficial.
“A couple of years ago I would get really nervous, feeling really nauseous before a race. Having worked with Jason at the Academy and my coach Jansen as well, I know that one race is not the be-all and end-all. It’s really helped with my enjoyment of the sport.”
Jaxon said the victory was a significant moment in his career.
“That was my first win at the tri nationals. I’ve been racing there for about five years and it’s always been a big goal. You look at the people who have won it before – some of those guys are racing on the ITU circuit now. It was pretty exciting, I couldn’t have been more happy,” he said.
“It was the last race of the day and everyone was watching. The commentators were talking about what a risky move it was and they were callilng out my name, everyone was cheering and it was an awesome feeling.”
Jaxon grabbed plenty of attention when he finished sixth on debut at the world age group championships on the Gold Coast last year.
He is going to skip the world championships in Europe this year and focus on making more of an impact when he is at the top of the 16-19 age group the following year, which will include a build-up campaign in Australia.