Harrison Fisher - the boy who never quits
Twelve-year-old Neerlandia Public Christian School triathlete to compete in Alberta Summer Games
When Harrison Fisher was about six, his mother Colleen took him skiing for the first time.
Most rookie skiers have a tough time initially. Staying upright can be a challenge since skis seem to have their own sense of direction. For Harrison, it was no different.
All the youngsters in his group skied down the slope. All returned with the help of a tow rope – all except Harrison. The same thing happened again. And Again.
Finally Colleen saw Harrison at the top of the hill. He was upset and extremely frustrated.
“He came in, had some hot chocolate, and calmed down,” recalls Colleen. “So I said to him ‘if you want to return your skis and call it a day, that’s fine.’ He looked at me and said ‘you don’t learn anything by quitting.’”
Now fast forward to a triathlon “kids of steel” competition in St. Albert on June 17, 2012. Harrison is six years older and facing one of the most important events in his young life. At stake is a chance to qualify for the provincial summer games.
Unfortunately, he is feeling sick. He has a chronic cold which is affecting his breathing; bad news for any sportsman, but triply bad for someone who competes at swimming, cycling and running.
The option of pulling out was there. No doubt many would have been tempted. After all, what is the point of competing, when you are not at your best? Well, that was not Harrison’s mindset. Not at all.
He plunged into the pool and he struggled … his anxious mother could see her son battling to catch his breath … but he completed the distance, hauled himself on to his bike and set off to stare down another challenge.
By the time he had finished his run, he had done well enough to book his place at the July 26-28 Alberta Summer Games in Lethbridge where he will be competing against other 11 and 12-year-old triathletes from across the province. It is believed to be the first time the games has had a triathlon category.
For the Grade 6 Neerlandia Public Christian School student, it represents a huge honour; an honour too for the school and his family, who live in Barrhead.
“I was really sick for the qualifying event, but I never really thought about not taking part,” he says. “I did lose breath in the pool and I definitely struggled, but I had to keep going.”
Harrison credits his mother as his inspiration. Mother and son regularly take to the roads together, either running or cycling.
“I am the nearest he has to a coach at this stage,” says Colleen.
During the games Harrison will be living in an Olympics-style athletes’ village. He will eat with fellow athletes, bus with them and, it is hoped, develop a camaraderie.
It is a prospect that doesn’t daunt him, since sociability is another of his attributes. He has an unflappable nature, apparently inherited from his father.
“He has amazing social skills,” says Colleen. “His personality is very much like his dad’s.”
Harrison takes that calmness to the sporting arena. He says he never gets nervous before an event. He even rejects the notion he is competitive.
“I don’t think about other competitors,” he says. “I only want to break my own goals, my own records. My goal at the games is to beat my best time for all three events. I want to shave five minutes off it.”
“The games are not about winning,” says Colleen. “They are about team work and making friends. They are about being part of a community spirit.”
Harrison’s big moment will come on July 27 at the Nicholas Sheran Pool and Park, starting with a 300-metre swim, followed by a 10-kilometre bike and 3-kilometre run. He will take part in individual and team events.
Cheering him on will be Colleen and his aunt Jayne. They are sure to take dozens of camera shots for the family album.
Harrison may not come back with a medal. But of one thing people can be sure – he will do his best. And he won’t quit.
Keeping going is ingrained in Harrison’s character.
“That’s kind of how he lives his life,” says Colleen. “If he sets his mind to something, he will accomplish it.”
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