Josiah, Caleb, and Mathew Ney are three young men who share a passion for the triathlon.
The Vancouver Island natives have returned to Sooke from their new home in New Zealand to compete in the Kelowna Apple Triathlon. That’s an International Triathlon Union Camtri event that will give them an opportunity to earn valuable ITU points they’ll require if they hope to qualify for events like the world championships.
The three brothers are all recognized as up and coming triathletes in New Zealand and have made a name for themselves in one of the most difficult endurance sport.
The family moved to New Zealand four years ago and hold dual citizenships.
“I’ve been competing since I was nine years old. I watched the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and I just loved the idea of triathlon,” said Josiah, now 19.
“I grew up doing a lot of sports – lots of running and hiking – and I was already biking so I just needed to learn how to swim. I did and then participated in my first race in Victoria that year.”
Of course, the initial distances facing Josiah were a fraction of the sprint distances he most often races these days. Those races now involve a 750-metre swim, a 20-kilometre bike ride and a five-kilometre run.
He also races the standard Olympic distance; a race that’s exactly double the distance of the sprint race.
Given Josiah’s passion for the sport, it isn’t at all surprising that his brother Caleb, 16, also became involved in the sport at an early age.
“I got pulled into it by this one,” said Caleb with a grin, gesturing at his older brother.
“I started a year after Josiah so I was seven at the time. Right now I’m racing the same distances he is, so it’s a lot of fun.”
For his part, Matthew, the youngest of the brothers, had the earliest start.
“I started when I was four years old. I did the same race as these guys, although I remember that I did the whole run portion still wearing my bike helmet,” Matthew, 14, recalled. “I had a little trouble getting it off … it was taking too long, so I left it on.”
The family’s passion for the sport has extended to mom and dad, Kate and Patrick, although their involvement started only after they found themselves driving the boys to events and decided that they may as well try their hand at the sport.
“We take part, but we’re what’s known as ‘completers, not competers,’” joked Kate. “But it has given us an appreciation of how difficult the races are.”
The life of a triathlete has helped shape the lives of all three brothers.
They admitted that their passion for the triathlon tends to set them apart from many of their school mates.
“You find out pretty quickly who the people are that you want to hang out with. We’ve all got a lot of friends we’ve made competing, of course,” said Matthew.
“But at school, it’s sort of natural to hang around with the athletes … they sort of get it and can relate.”
That’s not to say that they haven’t considered life beyond triathlon. Josiah hopes to pursue a career in sports medicine, but is quick to say that his dream of competing in the Olympics is still front of mind.
As for his brothers, they haven’t settled on a career path, but the shared dream of Olympic competition will continue to send them out for training and competition for the foreseeable future.