First-time try a charm for Sault triathlete By DONNA SCHELL, SPECIAL TO THE STAR

First-time triathlon entrant Sarah Gelmych, of Sault Ste. Marie, is only one of two area teens to qualify for the 2012 Ontario Summer Games.

Aron Mohammadi, also of Sault Ste. Marie, also qualified.

It's really exciting, Gelmych said. I didn't expect that.

Gelmych was one of 13 to participate in Saturday's 8th annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon, Kids Of Steel (14-15 year old) event, which included a 300-metre swim, 10-kilometre bike and three-kilometre run.

Gelmych placed third in the three qualifying female spots with a time of 55:36. She will be joined by first-place qualifier Sarah Hay, of Thunder Bay (50:58) and Tiia Ovaska, of Lively, with a time of 52:43.

Gelmych describes herself as a strong swimmer, and said she was nervous going into the running portion of the triathlon.

To prepare for the latter, she ran each morning.

I didn't do a lot of training, she said, adding she was pleased with her performance in the water, even though she didn't consider it her best.

She's had little training in open water. Gelmych said she finished well in the cycling portion.

I like to bike, she said. It could have been better.

On the course, she was passed, then caught up with other athletes, then fell behind.

I thought I was last, Gelmych said. I didn't see much of anyone in the run and I thought I was last. I didn't see anyone or know where I was (in the pack).

Also qualifying for the summer games is Jonathon Kidd, of Elliot Lake.

Making it means a great deal to Kidd. There's a lot of training, building up to this race. It took a lot of hard work and (I) enjoyed it very much, he said.

Kidd competed on St. Joe in 2009, finishing first in his age class, then took a year off to train. Kidd credits his preparation to his coach, Olympian Buddy Green.

I look up to (Green) a lot, Kidd said. I find he's a lot like me.

Earlier this year, Kidd competed in North Bay in the Try-a- Tri, winning his age class. For the upcoming summer games, Kidd said he'll focus his training on improving his personal best in running and swimming.

Throughout the race, Kidd said he focused on maintaining a steady pace at the front of the pack and reaching the transition areas quickly.

Kidd said being among the lead, into and out of a transition, is critical.

In North Bay, my transition time was not good, lots of people got ahead of me and I had to catch up, he said. Here (Richards Landing), I was a lot faster and better and able to get pace.

At the moment, his overall goal is the nationals. Kidd finished second in the qualifying round with a time of 42:56.

First place went to Marek Bialkowski, of Parry Sound, Ont., with a time of 40:59, and Aron Mohammadi, of Sault Ste. Marie, who registered a time of 43:52.

The Ontario Summer Games began in 1970 as a showcase for amateur sport. It has now become the province's largest multisport event, including both team and individual sports.

Provincial-level athletes, 11 to 22, qualify through a regional selection process conducted by the Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs).

The Ontario Summer Games take place every two years and are awarded through a bidding process. The event is a program of the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport, and is delivered by the Sport Alliance of Ontario.

The 2012 Ontario Summer Games will be held in Toronto.

This is a tremendous opportunity for our 14-and 15-yearolds to compete for a spot at the coveted Ontario Summer Games in 2012, said St. Joseph Island Triathlon race director Sherri Smith, adding the St. Joe organizing committee salutes the Ontario Summer Games Organizing Committee (OSGOC) for selecting the Algoma event as a qualifier.

In doing so, the OSGOC has recognized the importance of triathlons in Northern Ontario and the role the St. Joseph Island Triathlon plays in the growth of multisport in our region.