“I had to stop competing — we didn’t have any more space to put the trophies,” he jokes, gesturing at the shelves of fame, laden with the milestones of the sporting careers of his family.Nine-time national triathlon champion, Jason Gooding, is a Level II ITU (International Triathlon Union) Certified Coach and now heads the Rainbow Warriors Triathlon Club — a multisport club for both children and adults that crave anything ‘outdoors, challenging, and fun’. The Club provides services for the running, triathlon and duathlon community in Trinidad & Tobago. Its services include Group Training, Personal Coaching, Event Management, Equipment Rental and Electronic Chip Timing through their brother company Odessey Timing Company, of which Jason is also the C.E.O. Despite no longer competing, it’s evident that his career in the sport is far from over — when he settles down to speak with WellnessConnect, he’s just returned from a four-hour bike ride with his RWTC team, while still nursing his way back to full health after surgery for a tendon injury sustained recently during a hill run exercise. “It’s a beautiful sport and once you get into it, the passion is there,” Jason says. “Even when I was injured, I did my physical therapy exercises while everyone else did runs — I still got up every morning because I always know: my team is waiting for me. It’s nice to see the youngsters coming up — to see where they start off and where they end up. ”
For the Love of SportJason has been involved in the sport of triathlon since the age of 14, under the guidance of his father Ian who encouraged his children to get involved with various sports from an early age. “I wasn’t a good athlete — not even average, perhaps below average,” Jason says. “Growing up, I was too slow for running, cycling was expensive, I knew swimming had a short life span… but I still wanted to do sports, and my dad put me into everything.” He was running at a charity event when his father, retired Newsday journalist Ian Gooding, ran into an old schoolmate. “He asked, ‘You want your son to do a triathlon tomorrow?’ My response was, ‘What is triathlon?’ ” Ian reminisces, chuckling. “So he competed, and the first year he came 6th, then 3rd the following year, and then 1st place straight up for 9 years. He was the national champion at 17 — coached by a father who knew nothing about triathlon!” Over the 16 years of competing, Jason represented T&T at 6 World Triathlon Championships, competed in 6 International Triathlon Union ITU races, and competed in the Commonwealth Games — among dozens of other highlights, taking home numerous trophies to populate the shelves in his living room, which soon began to be filled by his sister Maria’s accomplishments as well.
An outlet for kidsMaria is the top female mountain bike rider in T&T, and a Junior Triathlon Coach at Rainbow Warriors Club. She and Jason divide the Club members by age — she has the junior members 15 and under, and coaches them on the fundamentals of the sport to get the basic skills on point; whereas Jason trains the older members who are more focused and disciplined with regard to training and competing. Maria also puts on a camp in the July-August holidays for children aged 5-16, the “RWTC Triathlon Fun Boot Camp” with events including swimming, running, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, aqua aerobics, zumba, mixed martial arts, yoga, wakeboarding and water skiing. “Apart from it being fun for the kids, as a parent I also believe in keeping your children involved in sport — keep them tired, and they stay out of trouble!” Ian laughs. “Trinidadians tend to believe, when children reach the age for S.E.A. exams, they need to drop out of sports to focus on their schoolwork. But sports help you to build discipline from a young age.”
Fun with disciplineJason agrees with his father as it pertains to discipline. “I remember at school, my friends were going out liming, and I’m thinking — I want to go, but I have to get up at 5a.m. tomorrow to train,” he says. “Then, when I finished school, my dad gave me the option to get a job, or for sports to be my job — so I trained for 6-8 hours a day… getting up at the crack of dawn to run or to ride from Diego Martin to Manzanilla, hitting the gym at lunch, then swimming for hours in the afternoon.” It’s this kind of discipline that he hopes to instil in his young RWTC trainees, though he fully appreciates that for children it’s not possible to be too regimented. “It has to be fun. I’m serious about discipline — you need it for absolutely everything in life, but it has to be enjoyable. The kids can’t be pressured — they have to want it,” Jason says. “There are a lot of kids with natural ability but no discipline or drive. I would much rather coach someone who wants to do the sport than someone who naturally has the ability.” “The dream has to come from the parents too,” Ian adds. “Sometimes you have to put the dream in their heads — expose them to sport and push them to believe they can excel.”
The Goodings are already gearing up for the Neal & Massy Rainbow Cup International Triathlon in 2014. Not only is it the only event of its kind in the region, but 2014 will be its tenth anniversary — so expect it to be huge!
Here’s a snapshot of the last Rainbow Cup:
Rainbow Warriors: the essentials
- Annual Membership fees for the Rainbow Warriors Club are TT$300 for adults (16+) and TT$150 for children (15 and under).
- Monthly training fees for the Rainbow Warriors Triathlon Club are as follows:
|Monthly Training Fee (Ride/Run & Sunday)||$600||—|
|Monthly SwimWorkouts (Technique & Efficiency)||$240||$480|
|Per Session Training Fees (Ride/Run/Brick)||$40||$50|
|Per Session Training Fees (Swim)||$40||$60|
- 50% off all Rainbow Warriors Triathlon Club race entry fees
- Discounted group training fees
- RWTC Custom Cycling & Triathlon Uniforms at cost price (Only club members can purchase)
- $10 OFF Regular Lunch at New Earth Organic (80 Roberts St., Woodbrook – 381-8785)
- $400 Bike Fitting at Fitness Centre, Starlight (includes wedges)
- 10% OFF Regular Gym Membership at the Fitness Centre
- 10% OFF at Kenny’s Sports Stores (Nationwide)