Natalie Fournier is one of the latest athletes to be named to Team Manitoba. The 14-year-old is a triathlete who comes to the sport naturally as her parents both competed on the national and international stage. For Natalie though, it’s simply a passion she almost can’t put into words.
Most recently, Natalie was giving back to her sport as a volunteer during the 2019 St. Malo Triathlon. While she was manning a water station her parents were taking the lead. It’s a family event as her dad Marc is the race director and mom Cherrie heads up registration and the Kids of Steel event. Natalie says, “It’s nice to help, and this sport needs volunteers to make events happen. Without volunteers we wouldn’t be able to race.”
This Manitoba race held annually in June continues to grow with 302 participants this year. Marc Fournier said the 2019 Olympic event was a world qualifying race that brought in even more athletes. He adds the sport of triathlon is overall very welcoming and there are always new people coming out to give it a try.
Natalie got her start in the Kids of Steel program at the age of three. So far one of her career highlights was participating in the Manitoba Games where she earned a bronze medal. She says trying out for Team Toba has been a great experience with group training held multiple times a week. It’s a unique style of training, she explains.
“It’s an endurance event but you train to be fast in each sport of swimming, cycling and running.”
She best describes herself as a runner and her mother agrees.
“Natalie is naturally a fast runner. She has had some high placings in cross country and provincial track. She has worked hard and improved her swimming skills a lot. She is a good cyclist and has very good bike handling skills. She is laid back and doesn't get fazed by much,” Cherrie Fournier said.
Cherrie believes the Kids of Steel event is a great way to be introduced to triathlon. She has been working hard at promoting the races in St. Malo and says it draws participants from ages 3 to 15. At the younger ages, she notes all the racers earn participant medals. The kids gain valuable experience along the way and she says some get the bug and make the jump to draft legal racing much like Natalie has.
Natalie will have her parents with her on the trip to Swift Current for the Western Canada Summer Games next month. Cherrie will be one of the race officials while Marc will be a proud parent showing his support.
Natalie is excited about the pin trading as other athletes have been filling her in on the fun in and around the village. Her goal is to not crash on the course and have a solid performance. In the meantime, she will continue to train and enjoy her favourite pre-race snack of peanut butter and honey.