Young Lakeside triathlon athlete on the rise

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Name someone tougher than a member of the U.S. Navy SEALS.

If you live in the East County foothills community of Blossom Valley, you easily could in Konor Sacks, a fast-rising athlete who is developing into a star on the triathlon circuit.

Sacks, 16, has never been off the podium since capturing his first Triathlon just days before his 11th birthday, capturing his debut event at the 2009 Mission Bay Triathlon.

Name someone tougher than a member of the U.S. Navy SEALS.

If you live in the East County foothills community of Blossom Valley, you easily could in Konor Sacks, a fast-rising athlete who is developing into a star on the triathlon circuit.

Sacks, 16, has never been off the podium since capturing his first Triathlon just days before his 11th birthday, capturing his debut event at the 2009 Mission Bay Triathlon.

“I didn’t even know about it until a few days before the race,” said Sacks, a sophomore at River Valley Charter School in Lakeside. “My mom signed me up and I went and raced.”

Thirty or so Triathlons later, almost all victories in his age group and most in age groups above his—Sacks is now out-classing the adults. Sacks made such a demonstration by capturing a local triathlon series against adults, including many members of the Navy SEALS.

“They were looking at each other and saying, ‘We just got beat by this kid,’” said his mother, Cate, a former champion slalom water skier and champion runner.

Sacks’ father, Steele, was a champion tennis player in South Africa, while sister Makena, 13, competes in equestrian events and is a dog trainer.

Konor Sacks also is projected to turn professional.

In the recent conclusion to the 2014 season, (Oct. 26), Sacks won the 19 and under in the Oceanside Life Time Tri, a week later won the 19 and under in the Catlina Tri and a week later was crowned the overall winner of the San Diego Triathlon Series.

“I’ve thought about it, but then I looked at the calendar and found a good time to do it,” he noted.

By coincidence, the famous Ironman Triathlon in Hawai’i will be held on his 18th birthday — the minimum age to participate—in 2016.

“It would be neat to qualify or you could buy your way in,” he noted. “You can bid for it on Ebay.”

Sacks’ owns an array of high-tech equipment to compete, including a carbon-fiber bicycle and a new racing helmet, all needed to contend with the best in the sport.

Even with all of the triathlon success by River Valley Charter High sophomore Konor Sacks, he still faces challenges in life. Fortunately, the 16-year old is finding ways to win those battles, too.

“Konor suffers from Asperger syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism,” said his mother, Cate. “Fortunately, Triathlon has given him a chance to develop a life.”

People known as ASPY’s often find significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. Luckily, competing in events allows Sacks to overcome such obstacles.

“Our family has seen him catch up to someone who was having trouble on the course, picking them up, talking to them and encouraging them to move on,” she said. “This has given him an opportunity to connect with other people.”

“That’s why we are so grateful to his coach, Felipe Loureiro, and the Breakaway Training team. They don’t treat him like a kid, yet are there to support him when needed.”

Loureiro (not the soccer player of the same name) is a two-time Brazil national champion in triathlon (1995-96) and, more recently, two-time winner of the Catalina Island Triathlon (2010, ‘12).

Loureiro and Breakaway Training has been working with Sacks from the very beginning since winning his first triathlon five years ago. Sacks is also sponsored by Mio Global, makers of heart-rate monitors which strap to a wrist just like a timepiece.

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