Run, bike, swim

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When it comes to multi-tasking, Brad Cullen is something of an expert. The 17-year-old is not only juggling his studies at Hamilton Boys’ High School, but is a competitive triathlete aiming for top level success this season at events scattered across the globe.

The top ranked U19 triathlete in New Zealand, Brad is committed to the heavy workload of training required to excel in three different sporting codes.

With a long-term goal of the 2024 Olympic Games and of being a full-time professional athlete, he has no illusions about the workload required to achieve these ambitions.  

With a swag of regional and national titles to his name, Brad was also a former Waikato rep rugby player and played Waikato level tennis. These days however, his packed timetable leaves little free time for anything other than training or schoolwork.

Fitness Journal finds out more …

Name: Bradley Cullen
Age: 17
Sport: Triathlon
Regional/national ranking? Regional ranking 1 in U19 and 5 in NZ
Where do you live? Cambridge
High school? Hamilton Boys’ High School

Career path?
To become a full time professional triathlete and race all around the world. Also, to go to university and study sports science.

How did you become involved in triathlon?
Through swimming, as I was a competitive swimmer from the age of eight. As a kid growing up I also did Waikato cross country events. I had watched a few triathlons on television and they caught my attention so I when I was 11 I bought a racing bike and got started. The main reason was that I wanted a new challenge to test my limits and see what my body could do.

Outline your upcoming 12 months?
It’s a busy calendar with the Junior U19 Worlds Qualifier (Perth); Junior U19 Worlds Qualifier (Wellington; Australian junior series (Gold Coast); NZ National Series (Kinloch); NZ National Series (Takapuna); Future ChampioNZ Triathlon Festival (Taupo); New Zealand Secondary Schools Triathlon; Aquathon; Open Water Swimming Champs (Wanganui); New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Champs (Auckland).

What has been your greatest successes to date?
National Swim/Run Champion 2012,2013,2014; 5th Oceania U19 Sprint Champs; NZ Elite U19 Aquathon Qualifier to compete in Mexico; NZ Secondary Schools Cross Country Team 2016; 3rd U19 New Zealand Secondary Schools Triathlon and Aquathlon 2016; 2nd U19 New Zealand Secondary Schools Duathlon 2016; National Talent Squad 2016;  

What motivates you?
The challenge of testing my limits and watching the improvements I make through consistent training.

What is your greatest challenge?
Trying to balance the heavy training load and still keep a social life.

Who is the team around you?
I have a very strong team. My friends and family are a very big support crew with nine of us. Addiing to my core support is Daniella Meier from Pathway to Podium, Juls Clonen – National Talent Squad director for Triathlon NZ, my sponsor Body Performance (Cambridge), Vigour Physio and most importantly, my coach, Bruce Hunter from Team Sedulous who always has me in peak physical condition when I need to be.

What does the sport involve in terms of training?
The load of triathletes is very intense and time consuming. It usually consists of 10.5 hours of swimming, 9 hours of riding, 5.5 hours of running and 1.5hours of gym (this on a heavy training week).

What gives you the most pleasure?
Standing on the top step of the podium and holding the finish ribbon above your head.

What are your long-term goals?
2024 Olympic Games. Getting there will require dedication, a strong support team and consistent training.

Was there a time when you thought of giving up?
Yes, when I was going through a tough time with injury after injury. It seemed nothing was going my way and I felt the easiest choice was to give up, because it was all becoming too much. People I was beating before were beating me and I couldn’t do training sessions, but I worked my way through it.

Where are your favourite local spots to train?
Lake Karapiro and St Kilda, Cambridge

Where in the world would you like to train?
Boulder, Colorado, because that is where all the top professional triathletes train.

Who inspires you and why?
Alastair and Jonathan Brownlee, Richard Murray and Javier Gomez as they have all suffered ups and downs in their careers but always seem to come back stronger.

What advice would you give to others wanting to have a go?
Have fun because there is plenty of time before you start to get serious.

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