Young athletes take over Columbus - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Young athletes take over Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

After taking on the second annual "Y-Kids-Tri" Triathlon on Saturday, over 100 children from all over the valley are now Tri athletes.

Organizers say it's a competition geared towards introducing young athletes to the sport of triathlons.

Kids ages 6 to 12 swam up to 100 meters, biked and ran up to 3 miles all in hopes of winning the top spot.

It's quite a way to start a Saturday morning, but these kids say they are up for the challenge.

"It was pretty tough but I pushed through it," 10 year-old participant Lexi Edwards said.

Watching a triathlon on TV made Lexi and her 9 year-old little sister Jaci, want to try it. The sisters trained by running three 5k's, riding bikes everyday with their parents, and swimming at the YMCA; they say this is the 44th triathlon they've completed.

Along with 150 other children, they pushed their bodies and minds to the limit.

"I thought the swim was really easy, but the biking, the hills were kind of hard, but the running was probably the hardest," winner of his age group, Josh Fernicola said.   

The triathlon is definitely a test. However, one little girl faced a bigger obstacle her parents say did not slow her down.

"Gracie's eight years-old and she has Autism," said Ryan Bush.

Gracie is learning from the best. Both of her parents, Ryan and Nicole, compete in "Iron Man" competitions.

"Most kids with Autism they have difficulty with physical activity, and team sports. So, this is a way for her to be involved in a sport and get physical activity and also in big groups," Gracie's mother Nicole Bush.

Gracie's parents say she seems to thrive when she is in a race such as the triathlon. Her father said he's proud because Gracie is defying the odds.

"I think this just proves that no matter what the disability is, you should embrace the differences. This shows that you don't have to let anything hold you back and she's an example of it," said Bush.

Each child that completed the triathlon is recognized as a Tri athlete by the United States of America Triathlon Association.

"This is the future of the sport right here, absolutely. It's a sport that they can carry on into their adult life. If you can swim, If you can ride a bike, If you can put one foot in front of the other, you can do it for life," race director Joanne Cogle said.

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