I have raced in many triathlon races all over the world, the crowd you see at the races are manly made up of the triathletes and their families. Triathlon lags far behind the other spectator watched sports, where the crowds do come out for are to watch the world championship triathlon races.
I was thus so taken aback at the recent race in Palembang, Indonesia. I think it was the 1st time the people at Palembang, the capital city of South Sumatra a Province of Indonesia had witnessed such a sport. The children from villages near the lake where we did the swim were out in full force to watch the race.
At the end of every race they came to every triathlete and mobbed them, it was scene like no other, asking for autographs, wanting to take pictures with you or even simply wanting to touch .
I was shocked, not knowing how to respond. I didnt win yet here they were crowding around me, when some asked are you from Indonesia and I answered , no from Singapura(Singapore), you could see their disappointment as they wanted to see their own country triathletes in action. Still, the kids continued to shake my hand and they took pictures of me as i walked into the transition area to collect my things.
I am sure in 2 years time when Palembang hosts the 2011 SEA Games they will have an Indonesian triathlete for this kids to look up too.
The children of Palembang made this race a very special event for me one I will remember for a long long time.
Travis aka HULK