Olivia Neunaber Does Triathlons Competitively


Credit to Photo submitted

Sophomore Olivia Neunaber runs with her bike to gain momentum during her triathlon.

By Patty O'Leary

She stands at the starting line, awaiting the long race of swimming, biking and running before her. The thoughts of nervousness that creep into her head are quickly shut down with the mental preparation prior to the race. Surrounding her are competitors of all ages, most bigger, older and more experienced, but all she’s focused on is the country roads in front of her.

Sophomore Olivia Neunaber is no stranger to triathlons. As a child she watched as her mother Meghan Neunaber, an accomplished triathlon competitor, participated in various difficult courses including a very difficult course called the Iron Man. Seeing someone who’s so influential in her life participate in so many of these events made her want to follow suit.

“As long as I can remember my mom’s been doing it,” Olivia said. “She’s really good at it, so when I saw her doing it, I always thought it would be cool to do.”

She turned that thought into a reality by doing a few courses with her mother here and there throughout her childhood. Olivia and her mother did courses about once a year for fun and to participate in something together. It wasn’t until last year, when she saw various high school triathlon clubs at a race she was participating in, that she decided to pursue taking this hobby and turning it into something more.

“I think it’s pretty cool that she’s taken it [triathlons] up,” Meghan said. “I’m glad she’s excited about it. I’ve been doing them since she was in preschool so
I don’t think I ever would’ve thought that she would
have taken it this far.”

Joining the club entails more than just racing, though. Between the triathlon club, FHN track and field and club swimming, she is more than busy. She often has two practices every weeknight and the occasional weekend practice.

“It takes a lot,” Olivia said. “It’s hard always knowing that I can’t work certain days or I can’t hang out with my friends at any given time because I have practice.”

Not only does the sport consume a lot of her time, but it also requires a lot of mental strength. With such a physically demanding sport, often athletes will lean on their mental toughness to power them through a tough workout and especially to prepare them for a race.

“I’m usually pretty nervous,” Olivia said. “I try to mentally prepare myself for what I’m about to go through because it is a long race and requires a lot of endurance. You’re just constantly going and going and going, you don’t get to take breaks. I always just have to tell myself ‘I can do this.’”

With the strength to push her through the end of the race comes the satisfaction of crossing the finish line that once seemed so far away. Being only a sophomore, she doesn’t exactly know what she wants to do in the future with triathlons, but she hopes to continue throughout high school and possibly participate in a club college team, competing and crossing many finish lines wherever she is involved.

“When I’m finishing I think to myself ‘you’re so close’ and just try to push it all the way to the end,” Olivia said.