Teen triathlete Hayley lets her results speak for themselves
WHEN Hayley Stanford first started competing in triathlons, she did so using a heavy, steel-framed bike she'd bought second-hand for $100.
Racing against rivals riding the latest lightweight models worth up to $5000, the Gisborne youngster made it all the way to nationals.
But that's Hayley all over: no fuss, no fanfare - just get out there and get the job done.
In fact, those who are aware of Hayley's long list of sporting accomplishments are unlikely to have heard about them from the 15-year-old herself.
"She's a bit of a quiet achiever and doesn't like to advertise how well she does because she doesn't want people thinking she's got a big head," says mum Cathy.
"The only way anyone finds out is because her mum and dad are so proud of her."
There have been plenty of feats to celebrate.
Hayley finished third overall in the 2013 Scody Australian Junior Triathlon Series in the 13-15 years youth category, came second in the Victorian triathlon championship and was second overall in her age group after the Start to Finish five-race tri series.
Most recently, she took out the 15-19 years section of the Brooks Victorian Duathlon sprint series after the final race on October 6.
Hayley represented Victoria in both triathlon and cross country running at national schools carnivals this year and earned herself a state novice cycling title in 2012.
At Sacred Heart College in Kyneton, the year nine student has been the age champion in swimming and cross country and has taken the field for her school in football and soccer.
She also began playing AFL this year for the Gisborne Rookies in 13-year-old sister Caitlin's youth girls side - winning her team's best and fairest trophy and being named in the Ballarat league's youth girls team of the year.
"We just shook our head," says Cathy of the football accolades.
"Hayley had to go along to watch her sister because Caitlin gets dragged all over the country following her, and they were always a bit short of players. She was itching to get out there.
"She played about 12 games, polled about 16 votes and won the best and fairest by about four. We thought, oh my goodness, not another sport...."
She's a bit of a quiet achiever and doesn't like to advertise how well she does because she doesn't want people thinking she's got a big head.
But triathlon is her main love.
Hayley was always an active child, playing netball, swimming and running cross country during her primary schools years.
She had enjoyed taking part in the fun-based Weet-Bix TRYathlons, and began competing more seriously at the suggestion of a friend who was involved in the sport.
"My first big event was when I was in grade six, as part of the XOCISE series," she recalls.
"I don't know where I came but I remember that I accidentally did two laps on the bike instead of one and didn't realise until afterwards.
"I felt like I was going forever and couldn't work out why."
Hayley is a member of Triathlon Victoria's junior development squad and travels interstate with the group competing in events in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.
She is aiming for a top five placing in the national Scody junior series this summer, when she moves up to the 16-19 years age group.
That constant challenge to keep improving sees her to rise at what most people would consider the ungodly hour of 4.30am to train - without any prompting from her parents.
"Hayley has good time management skills and is motivated and knows what she has to do," Cathy says.
"She swims four times a week in the mornings and when she's not at the pool she gets up early to do a run or bike set before school.
"She comes home in the afternoons, has a snack and then she's back out riding the bike or running."
By her own reckoning, Hayley's weekly schedule reads something like this:
Monday: I train before school, swimming from 5am-7am, followed by a long run of 10-12km after school.
Tuesday: Swimming in the morning and a running set in the afternoon.
Wednesday: Swimming again, then in the afternoon I will either be on the wind trainer on the bike or I'll go for a long ride if it's a nice day or not dark too early.
Thursday: Usually I'll do a running set in the morning - I like running in the mornings more than the afternoons because it makes me feel more awake. Then in the afternoons, I'll rest.
Friday: Swimming in the morning then an easy run in the afternoon.
Saturday: Cross country in the winter. In summer, it depends if I'm racing the next day, but usually a long ride and easy run or sometimes I travel to Ballarat for a training session with my coach, Dave Huggett.
Sunday: A rest day, unless I'm racing. Or I might just go for a ride anyway.
Hayley says she would love to one day travel through Europe competing in ITU-sanctioned triathlon events.
She no longer races on the old steel bike, having struck a sponsorship deal with the Sunbury Bike Hub, which provided her frame at cost price. She also recently joined forces with wetsuit company Rocket Science as an athlete ambassador.
But even with that support, competing at elite level doesn't come cheap.
"Last summer she was interstate five or six times and that cost anywhere between $600 and $1000 each trip," says Cathy.
"We don't have a money tree growing outside!
"That's why Hayley's got herself a part time job at Brumby's bakery in Gisborne. We will pay her entry fees and travel but she knows she has to start providing her own spending money.
"It's good because it's teaching her about responsibility."
With the 2013-14 triathlon season just starting, Hayley has a busy few months ahead.
As well as the Scody races, she will compete in the XOCISE series starting in November and hopes to perform well enough to earn selection in the Victorian schools team that will compete in a national carnival in Bendigo next year.
If she qualifies, it will be her fourth consecutive year on the team. Hayley's efforts even have the rest of her family considering joining in the sport.
"I've been thinking about doing some duathlons next year and dragging the hubby (Brendan) along so he can do the run and I will do the bike ride," Cathy says.
"Hopefully we will be able to talk Caitlin into doing a swim leg and the three of us can do a triathlon together as well."