Inclusivity Starts with Us: Ambassadors Share Visions for Multisport's Future
by USA Triathlon Foundation
Black History Month is a time to reflect and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans and their central role in U.S. history.
USA Triathlon and the USA Triathlon Foundation are dedicated to combating discrimination, challenging inequalities and championing social justice in the multisport community and throughout the endurance sports industry. Inclusivity Starts with Us is one of the principles of our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access initiative. And we must continue to live up to its calling of turning words of support into actions for change.
Today, we’re highlighting groundbreaking moments, individuals committed to change and athletes paving the way for future generations. Three of our USA Triathlon Foundation ambassadors—Remigia Davis, Sophia Lattimore and Wade McNair—shared their racing experiences and their visions for the future of multisport.
The Foundation’s ambassador team is a dedicated group of athletes who are committed to raising awareness for our mission: transforming lives through opening pathways to swimming, biking and running for all.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Years racing multisport: 5
Multisport to me is empowerment, goal setting, community building and healthy fun! Multisport means me showing up and being the face of familiarity to the athlete of color or the smile of comfort welcoming that first-time athlete.
My first race experience was exciting, hectic, confusing and fun all at the same time. It was Nations Tri and due to poor water quality, the swim portion was canceled. Part of me was relieved at the swim cancellation but the other half of me was thrown by the change. As a first timer, I had mentally visualized my race from start to finish. Unfortunately, none of my visualizations contemplated one leg being removed and how I would adjust. Call it first timers’ confusion because hindsight it wasn’t a big deal, but when it’s your first time in a new space and without a feeling of community support; a simple change had a great impact. It was a feeling of showing up for the first day at a new school not knowing anyone and not really finding a friendly face to turn to. After the race began, and several mental mantras later it was all smiles from there for me. I was far from the fastest, not caring if I was the slowest, I was just excited and happy to be in the race. That day I did a THING!
There were very few present.
First and foremost, that BLACK HISTORY is more than a one month a year occurrence. African Americans are relevant! We have and continue to make daily contributions to our society and to the sport. To limit our significance to just one month is a disservice. Black history should be woven into every month.
My vision would be for the sport to be more representative of our society. MORE black athletes, MORE women, MORE of what I see when I walk down the street! Additionally, I would love for the multisport community provide a more comfortable and open gateway for the non or new athlete to enter the sport.
More inclusion of athletes from every demographic and skill level. The perspective of multisport from a white male elite is different from that of a black female on her first year of the sport; just like the perspectives a lifetime athlete to a beginner. When you bring the diverse groups together, you can discover differences in perspectives and gain an understanding so that collectively the unified mission can be reached where all groups feel represented and valued and not excluded and isolated.
I appreciate all that USAT has done, and I look forward to seeing what USAT has in store for the future. Additionally, I forward to finding ways that I can be of service to USAT and to the multisport community.
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.
Years racing multisport: 2
Having the ability to do two or more different sports.
My first triathlon was an exciting but scary experience. My coach had instructed me to create a race day plan and being a newbie, I didn’t really know what that entailed. It was funny, because I had to literally think about what I was going to do to prepare for this race. My mind was racing the night before, how was the swim/bike/run going to be. I got to the race and assembled my items, and as we lined up for the swim, my heart started racing and a fellow triathlete came over and started praying for me. As I approached the water, my heart was racing faster than ever before! Then I entered the water, it immediately started hitting me in my face, as I encouraged myself that I could do it. I panicked and motioned the lifeguard to assist me. (I will never forget this feeling and although I am a great swimmer, I had never done open water swimming in a racing capacity. I would tell anyone to make sure they are prepared for it.) I came out of the water, crying and extremely disappointed, but I heard my son in the background, hollering out, “Go get on your bike!” I wanted to quit but I wanted to finish at the same time. I completed the bike ride and then I returned and put on my running shoes and took off! I finished and that was all that mattered to me!
I observed that we really lack representation. I have competed in several running competitions and unfortunately the participant ratio is very low.
It shouldn’t be limited to a month.
To strongly compete and encourage others to compete as well.
Educate by providing free clinics for running/cycling/swimming.
Acknowledging greatness is not difficult but awareness is something we all should strive for!
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Years racing multisport: 4
Multisport is a unique opportunity to be with a variety of people--races, backgrounds, ages, and abilities--each individual wondering what they’re capable of on a given day and a given course. It is the opportunity to evaluate my path to fitness while encouraging others to pursue theirs.
My first race will never be forgotten! It was a local duathlon called “The Hammer.” Like many people, I tried it on a whim, didn’t know what I was getting into, and was cramping most of the second run. I can look back and say that I didn’t do anything right! But I pushed. I finished. And each time I stopped to stretch a cramp, there was always someone coming alongside to spur me on. Not once did anyone look down on me or laugh (perhaps while they ran away from me). But chances are they were reminded of their early days and the road ahead for me. The important part was that after I finished, my young daughters were there. They heard my name when the announcer said I had won my age group and started exclaiming, “You won! You won!” (Little did they know there were only two of us in the age group…but that is part of the joy in the sport!)
There is no large presence of black or many other minorities in triathlon. It is a tough sport to enter and maintain. While it doesn’t have to be about $10K bikes, swimskins and 140.6 distances, it does require a level of training, time, and resources to perform well. To this day, when I see other black multisport athletes, there’s a level of camaraderie from the start.
Black History Month is not about elevating one race over another; Black history is uniquely American history. Americans should want to learn about, embrace, and study ALL racial and ethnic histories. It’s part of who we are as a nation. American language, music, clothing and more is widely influenced by Black history, along with many of the civil liberties we so freely enjoy as citizens of this country.
I want multisport to be viewed as a way that people of any race, background or ability use as a way to improve their health and test their mettle. Just as people of sport.
First, people need to shed the idea that triathlon is only Ironman and embrace local sprint and Olympic distances. Second, people need to recognize that there are various multisports to choose from. Duathlon, aquathon, aquabike, cyclorun, cross-tri/du, are just other ways to participate in a competitive manner. And lastly, people need to realize that it’s much more about a lifetime of fitness (swim/bike/run at any age)!
Multisport opens doors to understanding your potential. When you step away from the race day hype, the aura of pro and elite athletes, and just look around at the age group, everyday athletes, you realize that the heart of the community are just people--moms, dads, able-bodied, physically challenged, young and old alike. We just want to do something that’s challenging but leaves us changed.
The USA Triathlon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the charitable arm of USA Triathlon . With its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run, the Foundation serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation’s three pillars: (1) Encourage youth participation; (2) Inspire adaptive athletes; and (3) Ignite Olympic/Paralympic dreams. Since the Foundation was established in 2014, it has provided millions of dollars in grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon.