30,31 Nick (PDF)

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All in
He’s just 20 and currently focusing on his studies, but Nicholas
Quenet is already considered a star of South African triathlon, and
it appears to be just a matter of time before this young man starts
making a real name for himself on the world tri stage. – BY TRACEY

Currently in his second year at Stellenbosch
University, studying towards a Bachelor of Accounting
degree, Nick has made the decision to focus on his
studies. When asked if he would consider putting
his studies on the backburner, or even on hold, if
offered a pro racing contract or more opportunities to
compete overseas, Nick says that will have to wait. “I
have thought about that, but I’ll stick to my degree!
I’m definitely a numbers man and I don’t think one can
operate in this country without a degree, so my aims
are to get my degree and then do an Honours here at
Maties, and then try to take triathlon to the next level.”
In fact, he already turned down an offer last year to
race in Europe, but having just started his studies,
says he couldn’t go. “It was sad to turn the offer


down, but while I’m studying, I’m biding my time and
focusing on the individual aspects of triathlon, doing
running and biking races, and swimming galas, so I’m
stronger when I graduate. Then I hope to base myself
in Europe in the hopes of getting a contract with one
of the French teams and race the grand prix’s. I’ve put
my mind to it to work for four years – after that I can
do what I want, and hopefully by then the triathlon
doors will be open.”

Nick grew up in Worcester, where his family owns
a pharmacy. Both he and Alexandra showed huge
sporting talent in primary school, so when Nick
was in Grade 8, the family moved temporarily to
Stellenbosch, so that the kids could benefit from the
more established school sports structures on offer in
the town. “We lived here with my mom while we were
in school, and my dad commuted regularly, but they
are now both back in Worcester, while my sister and I
still live here while we’re studying,” says Nick.
While at school, Nick focused on competitive
swimming, while Alexandra focused on running, but
about three years ago they both changed to triathlon.
That was no surprise, really, given that their father was
an elite triathlete in his younger days, racing in France
in the early 80s and only just missing out on the World
Champs in 1986 after falling off his bike and breaking
his collarbone. “He later took up running, doing the
Two Oceans Marathon, and is still doing trail runs,
but these days it’s more about ticking things off his
bucket list,” says Nick. “He really wants to go run the
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France.”

ISSUE 100 NOVEMBER 2017 / www.modernathlete.co.za

Of course, Nick’s swimming ability often gives him an
upper hand in triathlon events. “I have the advantage
of being able to lead from the start, and countless
hours in the pool is now paying dividends, especially
as there is so much technique involved in swimming.
It’s an advantage not to have to learn how to swim,
so I can just maintain my strongest discipline. I also
did biathlon in school, so my running was already
quite strong, but cycling was completely new to me.
Still, I’ve achieved massive growth in a short space
of time and am getting stronger, even though the
training takes the longest, and I’ve also worked hard
on my running this season. I did my first road running
race at the Sanlam Cape Town 10km and clocked
31:40. I am pleased with my time, but still want to go
faster, because if you look at the results on the world
triathlon circuit, I believe it all comes down to the run,
with the fastest racers all winning the foot race.”

While Nick is very understated about his success in
triathlon, a quick look at his track record shows why
he is already considered a star in the sport. In 2015 he

Images: Oakpics and courtesy Nick Quenet


lanwilliam obviously agrees with Nick Quenet.
The 20-year-old Maties student has driven the
230-odd kays from Stellenbosch to the small
northern Cape Town to participate in the Freshpak
Fitness Festival triathlon the last four years, and every
time he has come back with a podium position. In
2014 he finished fourth overall and first junior, then
came home second overall in 2015, while his older
sister Alexandra won the women’s race that year.
Last year he went one better and took the men’s title,
which he successfully defended this year, coming
out of the water first and maintaining his lead through
the bike leg, then blitzing the run for a dominant win.
However, he admits he didn’t expect to win, and really
thought the chasing pack would catch him on the bike
leg. “Winning again was a surprise, because with my
studies getting busier, I don’t have a huge amount of
saddle training time available,” he says.

won the Junior title at the SA Champs in Buffalo City,
then added the African Champs junior title in Egypt
a few months later. In 2016, he was second junior at
the African Champs, then added a sixth place and
an eighth place in ETU Junior European Cup events
in Hungary and the Netherlands, but things didn’t
go as well at the 2016 World Triathlon Grand Final in
Mexico. “I got a bit of heat stroke due to the 100%
humidity and did not finish the event, but getting to
the World Champs is still one of the highlights of my
tri career so far.”

keep training!” Then, looking ahead, he says he has a
few goals for 2018 that he wants to chase down.
“If the SA Tri Champs are at sea level, I might have
a crack at the Under-23 title, and then hopefully get
to African Champs as well. Everyone says third year
in my course gets harder, so I’ll have to see about

Europe, if the opportunity comes up, and I’d also like
to go after a 30-minute 10km, bring down my time
for swimming 1.5km, and do a few cycling and track
races.” Beyond that, he says his main aim will be the
2019 World Champs, and at the back of his mind are
the 2022 Commonwealth Games. “I’ll see how those
pan out and then plan the rest.”

Nick’s great results have also seen him pick up a few
endorsement and product sponsorships, including
one from Skechers shoes, and that, in turn, saw him
get invited to Los Angeles earlier this year for the LA
Marathon, which is sponsored by Skechers. “It was
such an incredible experience! I actually started with
the elite guys at the front, but stopped at the halfway
mark, as planned, to avoid overdoing things at such
a young age. But it was only once I stopped and saw
35,000 people coming past that I realised just how
many people there were in the race! My dad ran the
full marathon and we got to make a holiday out of
the trip, including seeing the incredible Golden Gate
Bridge. It was all just absolutely amazing.”

While his academics are his priority at the moment,
Nick says he still makes time for some racing, with the
Clanwilliam weekend being a must-do, as well as the
Slanghoek Triathlon in November near his hometown,
Worcester. “The races continue, so I do the academic
work throughout the year to take the pressure of at
the end of the year, and then it’s down to our holiday
FA ModernAthlete_HalfPage_MensTrail_paths.ai
in Hermanus to relax. It’s a brilliant place to



11:08 AM


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