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Focus Performance Refocus

02 June 2017

My journey to the Challenge Championships 2017 in Samorin, Slovakia.  An insight into the focus required as an athlete to reach personal goals and athletic milestones.  This article will be one of a three-part article covering “Focus Performance and Refocus”.

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Firstly “Focus”.  Over the past twelve months I have focused my athletic efforts on qualifying and competing in the Challenge Championships in Samorin, Slovakia.  The journey began at Challenge Vietnam on Sunday 11th September 2016.  I had been training for six months leading up to Ironman Vietnam 2016 having competed and completed the race in a respectable 16th place in my age group category, I set my sights on Challenge Vietnam where a podium finish would guarantee me a qualification place in the Challenge Championships in Samorin, Slovakia. 

Over the Summer months of 2016 I made sure I maintained my training focus when it could have been so easily put to one side while there were so many other distractions.  Focusing on my training in both the UK during my Summer vacation, and back in HCMC when I returned early from the UK to ensure perfect preparation for the upcoming race, my focus was rewarded with a personal best time and a 2nd place podium finish.  I made it; I qualified for the Challenge Championships, 2017. 

Delighted with my performance I understood that if I was to compete at the required level at the Challenge Championships 2017, I must increase my efforts.  I used this as a motivating factor to ensure that my training time was always focused on improving my weaknesses and cementing my strengths.  From September to December 2016 I spent time improving my core strength, stability and flexibility through yoga and strength training.  At the start of 2017, I took the step further of taking on a triathlon coach, our very own Todd Gilmore, father to Nick and Ben in our An Phu Secondary campus.  While my husband James remained my strength and conditioning coach, Todd added a new dimension focusing on triathlon specific training involving all three disciplines; swimming, cycling and running.  I was soon cycling more yet swimming and running less with a more effective and efficient output, otherwise known as “SMART training”.  My swim technique was overhauled and my run training became faster and in shorter bursts.  My training focus was far more structured and assisted by the constant reminders of my buzzing sports watch and my watchful coach. 

The minutes, hours, days, weeks and months were filled with constant reminders of why I was doing this, how I was doing it and what I hoped to achieve.  Along the journey my ability to endure and improve upon each discipline became evident.  My first seasonal triathlon test came in May 2017 with Ironman Vietnam held in Da Nang.  I was hopeful of a good result and was awarded in the scorching heat with a 7th place age group category finish.  It spurred me forward to ensure the following four week’s preparation, prior to Challenge Championships, were nothing but perfect. 

BISHCMC Athelete Mary McAloon in the Danang IRONMAN 2-min

As I sit here now writing this with the race tomorrow and surrounded by champions and fellow athletes at the Olympic training village in Samorin, Slovakia, I am excited to witness how personal athletic focus can be rewarded with a performance worthy of the focused efforts of myself, my coaches, my friends, my family and my colleagues.  Wish me good luck and follow the event’s live stream from 1pm on Saturday 3rd June at

Ms Mary McAloon, Deputy Headteacher