Two young Ballarat athletes are continuing to flourish in the sport of triathlon throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Darcy Williams and Oscar Wootton have both been selected to be part of the Triathlon Victoria Development Program, which provides a pathway to assist promising juniors progress to the elite ranks.
While Williams is a more seasoned triathlete and has been involved in the program for a number of years, this is the first time Wootton has been picked.
Williams, a year 11 student at St Patrick's College, said the program was a really helpful one.
"The social aspect is good but also the learning and also getting to experience new training environments," he said.
"They give you new ideas to bring home to Ballarat. They are the main things I think I get out of it."
Williams' competitive schedule has been thrown into disarray due to the recent bushfires and coronavirus pandemic. As a result of two of the four events being cancelled, the 2019-20 Australian Youth/Junior Series was determined null and void.
"Then we were lucky enough to race in the national championships in Devonport and then following that, New Zealand was meant to be about four weeks after that but it was called off. That was the Oceania Championships," the 17-year-old said.
"Following my performance in the mixed team relay in Devonport I was selected to go to Queensland with the Australian team in a mixed team relay but that got called off.
"I was also meant to race in what's called a Continental Cup but that was also called off.
"I'd say (I've missed) probably two thirds or three quarters of the season."
Wootton is only new to the sport, but caught the eye of talent scouts with good performances in 2XU events in Melbourne. He was selected in the School Sport Victoria team to compete at the national titles, but that never went ahead due to COVID-19. From there, he was then invited to join the Triathlon Victoria Development Program.
"I was just really excited about the opportunity and I wasn't thinking I was going to get in it, I was just training hard and hoped it was a bit of a bonus from training hard," Wootton said.
Wootton is a year eight student at Ballarat Grammar, lives in Sulky and plays football for Lake Wendouree and cricket for Wendouree.
According to the Triathlon Victoria website, the TVDP "delivers a nurturing and supportive environment for athletes aged 13 to 23 years as they strive to train and compete at the highest level, and ultimately be the best they can be".
The new program kicks off this weekend with a range of online-based sessions for participants.