Sport coaching academic calls for greater diversity in triathlon to boost participation

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A whole new approach is needed to bring new athletes into this toughest of sports, argues prinicpal lecturer Emerick Kaitell.

Emerick Kaitell portrait.jpg

Why is it that UK athletics has a high proportion of BAME participants, but triathlon competitors are 98% white?  This is the question that Roehampton's principal sports coaching lecturer Emerick Katiell attempts to answer in the November issue of 220 Trialthon magazine, in an article that highlights dwindling participation in what was 'the world's fastest growing sport' only 20 years ago. Emerick points to a number of factors that may deter black sportspeople; firstly the elitest atmosphere in many triathlon clubs, which are often focused solely on results rather than on engaging and welcoming newcomers. Secondly there's no clear route from school athletics into triathlon for promising youngsters, while the cost implications of cycle and swim training further reinforce the sport's elitist label.  

Emerick recalls feeling uncomfortable joining a triathlon club, noticing people reacting differently to him because of his colour. “We must recognise anyone coming to a club will feel apprehensive and it’s down to coaches to break that down" he writes. "I ask my students, How do you greet people? Do you ask why they’re here, what you can do for them, what are their concerns? Good coaching is about being engaged, understanding and enabling athletes to thrive.”