Another sunny summer weekend in New England, it would have been easy to sleep in on such a pleasant Sunday morning, but many Sharon kids, girls and boys, got up as early as 5am to line up timely for the start of the 2017 New England kids triathlon on M.I.T campus.
Excitement and energy filled the enormous Johnson Athletic Center, where over 1,000 young triathletes were prepped, alongside their even more energized parents, holding fully charged phones and cameras, artfully designed signs, or in some cases, a shoe-less and half-awake younger sibling in arm. Among the crowd, one cannot help but notice some beautiful white shirts with a flying eagle printed on the front and reads “Sharon Iron Eagles”. For the very first time, under the co-sponsorship of Sharon Chinese Association (https://sharonchinese.org) and Sharon Chinese School (http://sharoncs.org), the young triathletes from Sharon would compete as a proud group, representing the Chinese community from the friendly small town 20 miles south of Boston.
When Jennifer Zhang and Jina Meng, two of the key team organizers called for joiners just over a month ago, some children have not yet mastered the three skills to complete the full race, but bravely signed up and committed themselves to a disciplined training schedule. “When they know their friends have signed up, there is a strong motivation to join.” One of the parents said, “It is guaranteed fun to just be there competing with their peers”. Indeed, when the two Sharon Chinese community leading organizations decided to promote the event together, the goal is simply to help more children growing interests in the challenging yet fun activity. Although many children run, bike or swim during afterschool hours, competing in all three in a row within designated course and distance can be intimating.
Boosted by a healthy dose of peer rivalry, using this year’s official spokesperson, four-time Olympian triathlete Hunter Kemper’s word, that nervousness could all turn into power, the power to launch a lifelong passion of staying active and healthy. For parents, it’s all about seeing the kids’ tired and sweaty expressions transformed into smiles as they crossed the finish line. The sense of achievement and pride is priceless. “It is not just a competition with each other”, said one of the Chinese school parents, “It is a fun and healthy way to motivate kids to achieve more, and become better self everyday”. When being asked about next year’s plan, the organizers from Chinese Association Board said, “This year Sharon Iron Eagles had sent 24 children competing in the race, and is the third largest team. Next year we’re aiming at becoming No. 1”.
GO, Sharon Iron Eagles, GO!