Gabby Stanek of South Ballina has qualified to go to National Triathlon in Sydney.
Gabby Stanek of South Ballina has qualified to go to National Triathlon in Sydney. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Alstonville teen picked for NSW triathlon team

FIVE years living in Saudi Arabia helped pave the way for Ballina athlete Gabby Stanek to take up triathlon.

The 13-year-old Alstonville High School student is now gearing up for the Australian Schools Triathlon event after being selected in the NSW team.

"When we lived overseas I watched mum and dad do a lot of triathlon events," Stanek (pictured) said.

"I did some short races and it was something I enjoyed too.

"I was always good at running and it just went from there."

It is the second time Stanek has made a state team after representing NSW in cross-country last year.

It will be her first triathlon at national level after a fifth-place finish at the NSW All-Schools Triathlon Championships last month.

Stanek was almost two minutes behind the leader after the 450m swim leg of the race. She came out of the water in 35th spot and the powered through the field in the 12km cycle, clocking the third fastest time of the day in the under-14s.

Stanek then dug deep in the 3km run, overtaking five opponents to finish fifth in 40.10 minutes.

Alstonville High School students Felix and Moritz Margraf also competed in the NSW All-Schools Triathlon.

"Her (Stanek) run was actually quicker than medallists Laura May, Gabby Mastroianni and Odette Hodgson," cross-country coach Brian Chapman said.

Stanek is also trained by Lennox Head triathlon coach Jake Brindle and runs with the Tweed-based Border Striders club.

Brindle believes she has a big future in the sport.

"She has a good mentality and the physical capabilities," Brindle said.

"Gabby is a tall girl and good at visualising what you want her to do.

"She is a powerful athlete on the bike and I just want to build her confidence."

Brindle met Stanek and her mother by chance in a bike shop last year and has been working with her since December.

He trains with her one-on-one up to five days a week.

"It's an important age and I just want to instil the safest and smartest way for her to do things," Brindle said.

"Her first race at national level is a good opportunity and it will be a different scenario than what she is used to."

The Australian Schools Triathlon events will be held at Penrith on April 3-4.



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