Have you ever wondered why their are so few African Americans in the sport of triathlon?
That's a question that Brian Shields can answer. Last year Brian and his friends Gershon Blyden and Steven Raymond completed the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Miami, Fla.
All three friends are triathletes, and all three friends are African Americans. Next month they have new documentary coming out that chronicles their experience in the Floridian half Ironman race.
"I was amazed how few African Americans were in the sport, and I knew this was a great opportunity to take control of our health,” Gershon Blyden said.
The stats are pretty interesting. According to USA Triathlon African Americans comprised of only 0.5 percent of the triathlon community. You have to admit that's a pretty tiny percentage.
Brian recently sent us an email in which he wrote, "12 months ago, I and two other young black professionals decided to complete the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Miami. We found the triathlon to be incredibly rewarding, as it has created lasting memories, experiences and life-lessons that truly transcend the sport itself.
My friends and I took on this challenge after learning a disturbing fact. Although the triathlon is the fastest growing sport in the world, African Americans comprised of only 0.5 percent of the triathlon community. Motivated to address this disparity we challenged ourselves and others to complete an Ironman event."
You can watch the trailer to their documentary entitled From Ordinary to Extraordinary below.
After watching the trailer we couldn't help but wonder why there were so few African Americans in the sport of triathlon so we asked Brian.
According to Brian, "Honestly, I think its 3 main reasons:
1) Expense. As you know, tris are incredibly cost prohibitive, and not everyone has access to a mentor that can explain to them how to back their way into a tri through rentals, etc.
2) The Swim. As a stereotype, African Americans don't do well with swimming, and part of that is because a lot of us just didn't get exposed to it growing up. A lot of inner city/urban home environments, poor facilities in neighborhoods, etc. contribute to that
3) Advocacy. In my opinion, there hasn't really been a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods figure to catalyze attention and really drive interest in the sport. I mean there are African Americans all over cycle sports and running, but there haven't been those guys that just make you want to do them all at once. No Julie Moss for AA's, per se.
It's unfortunate, but since the event we have individually signed up 3 or more people to race in endurance sports (running, tris, etc.), and we are just trying to make a dent in the fitness culture of African Americans."
Check out the trailer below and we wish Brian good luck with his documentary in getting more Americans (African and/or all others) to adopt a more fit and healthy lifestyle.