PATRICE KRETZ, FIFTY-SOMETHING AND IN TOP FORM, DISCOVERED A DEMANDING DISCIPLINE THROUGH HIS DAUGHTER AMÉLIE. THIS IS THE STORY OF THEIR LOVELY COLLABORATION.
“It’s my daughter Amélie that got me hooked on the triathlon. Then one day I went to watch the Ironman in Hawaii where I saw our champion, Pierre Lavoie, competing. That was it. I promised myself that I would come back as a participant.”
Patrice Kretz is in his fifties and he is in shape, in really good shape. He did more than simply fall under the charm and the electrifying energy of the celebrated event. He came back as an athlete and he wound up on the podium!
That is nothing less than remarkable. Hawaii hosts the most prestigious Ironman Triathlon event on the planet. It is comprised of a 4 km swim in the ocean, a 180-km cycle, and a 42-km run. “It was a huge honour, a privilege, to be on the podium in Hawaii,” confesses Kretz.
But chatting with him, I guessed that it was not his proudest accomplishment. He was lucky to have very athletic parents, his wife is a recreational runner, his son loves sports as well, and his daughter is a member of Québec’s triathlon team! What could make a parent more proud than to share a passion with their offspring? “I love watching her train,” admits Kretz. “I feel such pride seeing her so dedicated; so grown up. It’s very demanding, but she loves it. You know, you play hockey, you play baseball, tennis, and golf, but you don’t play triathlon. It’s her choice; we know how demanding it is, that it’s no game.”
“I have a wonderful life,” adds Amélie. “I travel all over the world for my sport, I see beautiful places, and I make lots of friends, even with my competitors. It’s like that in triathlon.”
This 18-year-old’s goal is to qualify for the world championships next year in New Zealand, and why stop there? The 2016 Olympic Games are her ultimate goal, and nothing less will do.
The Kretz’s wonderful story is about family. The father – daughter collaboration is genuinely tangible. “We can train together,” says Kretz, “but she’s becoming too strong for me and sometimes I have to be content to ride beside her while she runs.”
“My parents give me endless encouragement because they see that I love this,” adds Amélie, as grateful as she is admiring. “I remember how moved I was when I heard that my dad had won his first Ironman in Florida.” Her simple words are a testimonial to their mutual affection and a strong family bond. The adventure began when Amélie caught the bug for this multidisciplinary specialty.
To imagine the effort required, you should know that the top professionals in the world complete the Hawaii Ironman triathlon in nine hours, 500th place finishers take ten hours, and those bringing up the rear can race for sixteen hours, their bodies beginning to scream warnings at a certain point.
The Kretzs will tell you: beyond the suffering, surviving these crazy events takes iron morals and a double dose of confidence, and perhaps a window on the future, as much for Dad (who is aging so well) as for his daughter, who has the Olympics on her radar.
Photos: Bramwell Ryan dispatches.ca