In this week’s paratriathlon In Profile feature we introduce you to Peter Boronkay, the world champion in the TRI4 category for athletes with arm impairment. Next year, he will have to defend his title by racing in his home country.
What made you decide to compete in triathlon?
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to qualify for the 2004 Paralympic Games as a swimmer and I saw very little chance to compete as a professional swimmer in the future. This was probably my main reason for switching to triathlon. There are no specific triathlon races for paratriathletes in Hungary so I compete against the non-disabled athletes. I found out about the European and World Championships for paratriathletes in 2007 at the Duathlon World Championship in Győr, Hungary, where I was advised to compete at the Hamburg Triathlon World Championships. I came fourth in my category and since then there has been no stopping me!
What does your typical training week consist of?
The rest period following the 2009 World Championship has just come to an end and from November onwards I complete ten training sessions per week. It consists of seven swims, one mountain bike ride and two long runs (between 10 and 20km) each week until February. Following that I will work out in the gym and go on more runs and as soon as weather gets better I’ll get on my road bike again. The training plans are of course very different in the spring and summer and they also depend on the race for which I’m actually training. I used to compete in off-road triathlon races as well and in addition there are a couple of long distance races every year. During the main part of the season I normally do four to five swims, three to four runs and three to four cycle training sessions a week, which can total four to five hours a day. It means that there are six days of training sessions and one recovery day, but the intensity of each training session always changes depending on several factors.
Many triathletes use a training log. How meticulous are you in the preparation of your training?
I used to train as a member of a triathlon team, but because of my new job I have been training on my own for a year. I consult with my coach once a week who writes me a personalized weekly training plan and I have to give him a run down of how the training went. I do have a training diary as well, where I note down exactly how I did including the times and heart-rate ranges, however, sometimes I am too lazy to fulfill the requirements and then I feel very guilty.
What adaptations have you had to make to accommodate your disability when competing?
I used a prosthesis at the 2007 Hamburg World Championship, but I did notice that not many athletes used them and they all rode time trial bikes. I decided to try their method and had my bike transformed a bit and as a result since 2008 I have been using a time trial steering wheel instead. There is a special brake, built together with the shifters, on the right hand side. Moreover the two brakes are integrated into one. I have also had similar changes made to my mountain bike, however I do use a prosthesis when riding on that one.
What is the highlight of your involvement competing in triathlon so far?
It was of course the 2009 World Championship on the Gold Coast where I won my first world championship title. It was also fantastic to win the 2009 European Championship in Holten for the second time after winning in Lisbon in 2008. Moreover, I was very glad to be able to compete in a long distance race in Switzerland, where I finished 47th out of 130 in my Age Group, which I think is not too bad, considering my disability.
What are your goals for this season?
2010 will probably be the most important year in my sporting career so far, because the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships will take place in Budapest, Hungary, so this time I will have to win in my home country. I’m also planning to compete in a long distance race in Switzerland and in the ETU Paratriathlon European Championships in Ireland, and maybe in the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Immenstadt, Germany.
Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for individuals thinking about competing in paratriathlon?
It’s definitely worth trying to compete in triathlon races as there aren’t really many other sports where disabled people can compete alongside non-disabled athletes at a European and World Championship level. Since paratriathlon is considered to be a new sport, there aren’t very many paratriathletes competing yet. The competitions take place in towns where a fantastic atmosphere is ensured by thousands of supporters lining the streets cheering the athletes on. Unfortunately paratriathlon does not belong to the Paralymic Games yet, but I hope this will change soon before I get too old to compete or grow a big beer belly!