It was Sept. 17, and the weather did not do much justice setting the scene for the Triathlon World Championship held in Holland.
Still, this year’s race was shaping up to be a successful event and went on to draw in crowds between the rain and 60-degree temperatures.
Kyleigh Spearing, 19, of Frankfort, was one of three American women who qualified to compete in the Triathlon World Championship.
“I loved it,” she said, reflecting on the experience. “The water was cold, the weather was difficult, and the course was a challenge. I enjoyed having a tough bike, run, and swim. It was the perfect race course to challenge athletes.”
Kyleigh said getting the nod to participate in the race brought great meaning to her.
“It was incredible to represent the U.S. team,” she said. “This is my third world championship.”
Kyleigh’s father, Ty Spearing, said it’s “awesome” to know his daughter represented the country in Holland this year.
“She’s always been athletic,” he said. “She competed with the Lincoln-Way Gators and was always athletic. She’s a good runner; she’s a good swimmer. And now, she’s a cyclist.”
Kyleigh’s mother, Kathy Spearing, agreed.
“To me—when I was 18 and 19—to be as focused as she is amazing,” she said. “She’s training for three sports all at once, and she’s in school. She’s attending Cornell University, an Ivy League School… The work ethic and time management she exhibits makes me very proud.”
Kyleigh admitted that this year, she never imagined the course she would travel to qualify to compete in the Triathlon World Championship.
“I had a sacral fracture, and I was out for four months without activity,” she said. “It delayed part of my season. I wasn’t sure how I’d perform. You never know if you’ll get back to competing at the level you were at previously.”
Kyleigh healed and went on to perform well during the season allowing her to qualify for the Triathlon World Championship. Leading up to the race, she competed in Pan-American Championship in Magog, Canada and the National Championship in Westchester, Ohio.
“I got fourth [place] in the Pan-American Championship, and I won nationals this year,” Kyleigh said.
Kyleigh started competing in triathlons at age 12 and served as a member of a team called Multisport Madness Triathlon Team. By age 14, he went on to start training with a woman named Jenny Weber and said she continues to work with her.
Typically, Kyleigh practices year-round to stay prepared for competing.
“I spend my summers in Iowa training,” Kyleigh said. “There’s a group of athletes training together there. In August, I moved to New York. I attend Cornell University, and I run for my cross country team. I swim with the Cornell swim team. I’m not on the team, but I practice with them. Jenny Webber helps me, as well.”
Ty said he’s always been supportive of his daughter’s interest in competing.
“It’s a family effort to travel around the country and around the world, and to support her financially,” he said.
Ty added that in the Spearing family, finding a balancing between academics and sports is highly valued.
Kyleigh recognizes that practice is important and stressed that she puts in full effort, no matter the stakes.
“My training stays the same for any race,” she said. “For any race, you take into account the weather and the race course conditions. I spent time working on little things like a 180 on a bicycle... I do a lot of little things to prepare myself to compete.”
Kyleigh said she is not sure where her triathlon experiences will take her next, but she remains hungry to compete.
“I hope to progress as far as I can,” she said. “I can’t predict what the result of my work will be. I want to see how I can progress.”