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Coach Profile: Ben Bell

Ben Bell!



Triathlon NSW was really excited to see the announcement of THREE pathway athletes onto the Australian Team for the World Junior Triathlon Championships, to be held in Hamburg (Germany) in July. It takes a lot of time and commitment from many people for an athlete to achieve the honour of wearing the green & gold on the world stage.


One such person is Ben Bell, coach of selected athlete Mitch Blackbourn, who has had a meteoric rise in form and confidence this year. Read on to find out about how Ben got into coaching, the strategy behind developing young athletes and his thoughts on the pathway program.


TriNSW: You’ve achieved some great things as an athlete yourself. What prompted you to step into coaching?

 My original plan was just to take on a few adult long course athletes while I was still racing and pass on some of my knowledge that I had learnt over the years. As my kids progressed into the Pathway system, Brendan Sexton asked me to come on board with the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) as his assistant. After only a matter of weeks he took on his role with Tri Australia. Scott Ashcroft and myself took over the IAS squad and four years later we're still loving it.

TriNSW: Congratulations on guiding Mitch Blackbourn to Australian Team selection for the World Junior Champs! It would be great if you could give us some insight into his progression since you started working with Mitch and how you plan to continue this development.                                                     
Mitch has always had great skills. It was in his first year of juniors that he won the Academy Games. Mitchell seemed to really grow in confidence after that victory and for the following two years he has gone from strength to strength, either winning or finishing on the podium in just about any race that he has contested. At the start of the season the World Junior Team was a stretch goal, knowing that he still had another year of juniors. We focussed on the Adelaide race  as his only chance to qualify because the race in Taupo clashed with All Schools. It was undoubtedly the most complete race he has put together and stormed home for victory on the run.

This year's trip is purely to gain international experience. We will continue to work on eliminating any weaknesses when he returns home and consolidate his strengths. When he finishes school at the end of the year we will be able to add a little more volume and add to his strength and conditioning program. The focus next year will be the Billigence series, AGPT races and the National and Oceania ITU races rounding out his last year in juniors. Then we will sit down and decide what the best training environment is going forward for what hopefully is a long and successful career in Triathlon.

IAS Group TriNSW: We’ve seen the camaraderie of the Illawarra Academy of Sport juniors at the Billigence Series races. They seem to be a really tight-knit group. Talk to us about the culture you and Scott Ashcroft have built within both this program and the Ashcroft Bell Triathlon Coaching Squad.                              
With triathlon being an individual sport and so demanding we really wanted to create a team culture where the kids enjoyed coming to training and hanging with their mates. They all push one another in training and have a good time when the training is done.

TriNSW: What are your thoughts on the current NSW Development Program and what future directions would you like to see it head in the future.             
The Billigence Series and the AGPT series is the best thing that has happened to NSW juniors for a long time. The skill level rises every year. From the Academy squads through to the NSW Under 23 squads, the pathway is heading in the right direction. With all the draft legal racing currently on offer, the next generation of triathletes will be well equipped to handle National junior races, then hopefully onto the senior international stage. It would be great to see a junior ITU race in NSW in the years to come as we head towards Brisbane 2032.


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