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Theresa Harper wins 2020 World Triathlon Women’s Committee Award of Excellence

By Courtney Akrigg | 03 Dec, 2020
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Theresa Harper of St. Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, Vice President of VI TRI, is the winner of this year’s World Triathlon Women’s Committee Award of Excellence for her remarkable efforts promoting equal opportunity for women to participate in all aspects of the sport of triathlon in the Virgin Islands, part of World Triathlon’s commitment to equality in the sport.

VI TRI, is a non-profit organisation that plan and deliver the St. Croix Triathlon, known as the Beauty and The Beast Triathlon.

Theresa has served as Secretary General for the Virgin Islands Cycling Federation for 22-years and Secretary General for the Virgin Islands Triathlon Federation for 11-years.Theresa has volunteered as unofficial Secretary for the Virgin Islands Pace Runners, race director, time keeper and volunteer coordinator for the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim, St Croix Dolphins Sea Swim, St. Croix Scenic 50, St Croix Women’s Coalition Women Race, VI cycling races, VI triathlons/multi sport events and Junior Tri VI multi sport events.

Theresa has been the successful candidate to receive a grant to progress the sport for women in the Virgin Islands by organising activities, events, sessions and clinics for women in the sport of triathlon.

“I’ve run 20 marathons, including 5 Boston Marathons, and have completed 68 triathlons. I no longer compete in triathlons and now enjoy investing my time into promoting the sport, training newbies and putting on events. I applied for and received a grant from Women For Tri to host a women-only swim/run event called Mermaid Mixer, which is held annually and encourages women of all abilities to train for and participate in the multi-sport event.  With these funds, I also organized a women-only swim clinic with a qualified swim coach.I applied for and received a grant from CAMTRI to host a women-only bike clinic, called Bella Biker, which involved a tyre changing demonstration, gear shifting and simple bike maintenance. The clinic concluded with a group ride and a brunch for all.”

“I am the sole fundraiser for the Junior Tri VI program, which is a series of multi sport events for children ages 5 to 15.I work one-on-one with many of these kids throughout the year. The VI Triathlon Federation owns a large fleet of adult and children’s bicycles, which we use at many of our events. I maintain two trailers of equipment tune the bicycles to proper working order and handle the rentals and fittings of the bikes.”

“When I received the announcement from Tomoko Wada about the World Triathlon Women’s Committee Award of Excellence, I was completely surprised, and extremely proud. I am so happy to bring recognition to the Virgin Islands and its wonderful people.”

Living and working in a small island community, like St.Croix, presents challenges and the sport of triathlon is still very much in development phase however Theresa’s grassroots level successes are remarkable, introducing newcomers and breaking down barriers to ensure that the sport is accessible for all.

“I really love every aspect of what I do for kids, for adults, for women, for newbies, for seasoned athletes. I love to get together with groups of women several times per week.  I plan the courses for us on our ‘long-run Saturday” runs and supply the water. I really love every aspect of what I do, for kids, for adults, for women. I love to see the excitement and feeling of accomplishment on their faces as they repair a flat tire for the first time, perfect their swim stroke or cross the finish line.”

Theresa acknowledges the support she receives from a wider team and community, that goes in to promoting the sport and the inclusivity of triathlon in the Virgin Islands. 

“I would like to recognise my team on St. Croix. The President of the VI Triathlon Federation, Scott Fricks, who is also present at the Congress today, is by my side in planning our events, reaching out to junior athletes and making sure we have diversity in all that we do.  Each of the 5 members of our federation’s Board has a specific role, which makes it easier to promote the concept of “triathlon for all”.    

As an example to everyone working to advance participation within the sport of triathlon at large, Theresa Harper is awarded the 2020 World Triathlon Award of Excellence.

“Receiving this distinguished award today is an honour that I humbly accept on behalf of future triathletes and leaders of the Virgin Islands.”

Theresa Harper

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