Leaving it all out there: Brazil’ triathlete Pamella Nasciento pushes it to the limit. *Photo supplied
Leaving it all out there: Brazil’ triathlete Pamella Nasciento pushes it to the limit. *Photo supplied

From time to time I am asked what the key components are for someone to succeed in a particular sport and specifically endurance sport at the highest level. 

There is no clear answer to this question but in my experience working with triathletes there are certain components that can definitely be found in most, if not all, triathletes who make it to the top of the sport.

For the next three weeks I will cover what I consider to be the main components.

The first and most obvious component, and for some of us the most depressing, is genetics.

Without taking anything away from Tyler Butterfield’s hard work and dedication to triathlon, I always point to the fact that his parents, Jim and Debbie, were outstanding endurance athletes. 

Is that a major factor as to why Tyler has shown himself to be a better endurance triathlete than short distance triathlete? 

If so, then it is scary to think how good Tyler and Nikki Butterfield’s kids might be should they decide to get involved. Nikki, of course, is a world class triathlete and cyclist.

Then there is mental strength when the body, or more importantly the mind, says ‘no more’.

This component can also be depressing for some of us! 

My experience is that you just can’t teach someone to go through a certain level of suffering or pain, although through experience and coping techniques we can get better at it. 

I recall when Flora Duffy was just eight years old that I was so astonished at the level of effort she could put into the point that I had to remind her that 100 per cent effort in training did not mean collapsing at the end; it’s supposed to be fun, kiddo!

I knew when she was still young that with this component, combined with others, she would win something in triathlon at world level and recall
telling her father the same one lunchtime — even though he was skeptical about such an early prediction. 

Over the next two weeks I will discuss what I consider to be the other important components — dedication, means, organization, consistency, physiology, maintenance — and the most subjective and misunderstood, talent and luck.

What does it actually mean when someone says “yes, she is really talented, isn’t she?”