Move over Superman - here comes Halksworth
The JEP spoke to super-fit Iron Man competitor Dan Halksworth, who has made his mark again at the NatWest Island Games:
IF HENRY Cavill is Jersey's Man of Steel, Dan Halksworth can rightly be called Jersey's Man of Iron.
The 29-year-old is an Iron Man UK champion and a Youth Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and has more than 20 Island Games medals to his name.
In a week of training, it is likely that he will swim, cycle and run further than most people will over the course of a year.
And as a professional triathlete, he has competed all over the world in Iron Man contests.
These are considered to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting challenges in the world, as the competitors swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a full marathon of 26.2 miles – without a break.
Last Sunday Mr Halksworth added to the Island's medal haul by winning gold in the individual triathlon and helping Jersey to secure top spot in the same team event.
And yesterday he in the men's 10 km final at the FB Fields.
His exploits at the Games are all the more impressive in that the Old Victorian has been suffering with a virus in recent weeks – something which he said was on his mind as he crossed the Waterfront's triathlon finish line with an (un)comfortable lead.
'To be honest, all I was thinking about was running to the toilet,' he said. 'I hadn't been too well, so I had to get that out of the way before I could finally celebrate.
'There had been a fair bit of pressure over the last few weeks, so to get the gold medal was quite nice.'
Mr Halksworth usually doesn't think about much when he is competing.
'During Sunday's triathlon I wasn't thinking about other competitors, I was just enjoying myself – and having the crowd spread out along the track was great,' he added.
'Cycling through St Mary over the famous speed bump, the pub there was packed.
'I had to have a look around, it was unreal.
'I think it's a huge advantage to compete on your home turf.
'Speaking for myself, I know every corner and every bump in the road, which really helps.
'A Guernsey runner looked like he was catching him and Minky just outsprinted him. That set us up for the team gold.'
When he is training for an Iron Man contest, Mr Halksworth swims for about four hours a week, cycles between 400 and 500 km and runs up to 100 km, while maintaining a balanced diet.
After becoming a successful swimmer as a teenager, he pushed himself in the other disciplines of running and cycling to become a triathlete and has for the past year been focusing on cycling.
He fits his training regime alongside working with his father, Paul, who sells surplus military equipment, and competes at the weekend, travelling to the UK and further afield for competitions.
Mr Halksworth said: 'Training for an Iron Man is different because you are doing a lot more volume.
'Training for a triathlon and the Island Games, I was doing shorter, sharper stuff.
'This year I've really been focusing on cycling and haven't been doing too much swimming –just a few times a week.
'My running has been a bit sparse since February and my last half Iron Man.
'I've always been a good swimmer, but I'm really strong on the bike at the moment. For me, the more I race, the stronger I become.'
However, he says it does cost him a lot of money to get away from the Island to race every weekend.
'It's always been difficult to get sponsorship,' Mr Halksworth said.
'I've had great help from law firm Davies and Ingram, and without them I wouldn't be able to get to half of the races I've been in.
'They are lovely people to have as my sponsors.'
Sport has been a passion for Mr Halksworth since school.
'I was the annoying kid in the class who treated every sports lesson like it was the Olympic Games,' he said.
'But at the age of 16 or 17, when I was in the lower-sixth, I thought I needed to focus on swimming.
'I broke some fingers playing rugby before Olympic swimming trials and had a bit of a telling off from my coach. I then focused on swimming, which was a good decision in the end.
'I am competitive with everything I do and I hate to lose.
'But I think that's quite a good quality to have because you need to be competitive in everything in life.
'And hopefully when I retire from sport, I can use my competitiveness in the future.'
While training and competing as a young adult, Mr Halksworth studied sport and exercise science at Coventry University.
Although he appreciates having studied the mechanics of human movement, he said that Coventry was not the best choice 'for an Island boy who loves the sea'.
But what life might he have had without dedicating his time to swimming, cycling and running?
He explained that he got as far as sitting an officers' entrance course for the Royal Marines as a younger man and 'almost quit triathlons' several years ago to enlist before realising that he was too old to become an officer.
Mr Halksworth is quick to praise Jersey's hosting of the NatWest Island Games and hopes that the competition will have an impact on the younger generations.
He says he has always been a fan of American runner Steve Prefontaine, a record-holder who was killed in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1975, and also looked up to Island and Olympic swimmer Simon Militis when he was younger.
And he says he would not have achieved any sporting glory without his 'incredible' parents, Paul and Kathy.
But it was at the last Island Games in Jersey, in 1997, where he first found his love for competitive sport.
'I was already a swimmer, but being at the pool watching these superstars made me want to be a superstar,' he said.
'I'm hoping there's 30 or 40 children out there who have the same thoughts that I had all those years ago.
'Hopefully, they can carry on and strive to be the best in their sports.'
So is there a room in Mr Halksworth's St Clement home where he keeps all his medals, trophies and awards?
Well, yes – but it isn't quite what you might expect.
'I'm not really one to put things out on display,' he said.
'My medals are all in my garage hidden behind things.
'I don't know where my other Island Games medals are.
'I suppose medals are nice, but they're not as good as the memory of actually racing.
'I think that title-wise, winning the Youth Commonwealth Games was probably my best moment.
'Winning an Iron Man UK title was incredible too, because it's such a hard event.
'But winning an Island Games gold on home soil in front of my family also ranks up there as a great achievement in its own special way.'
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