BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter

Grade 11 student Llori Sharpe started out as an outstanding swimmer, but later developed a special love for athletics.

Llori Sharpe (left) accepts the VMBS YOUTH Awards from Courtney Campbell, Group president and CEO during the RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards Gala at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

But as fate would have it, instead of pursuing one sporting discipline, she was

Having been involved in triathlon since her debut in November 2015, Sharpe has already established herself as one of the faces — if not the face — of the sport locally.

The credentials of the 16-year-old on the regional and international stage has hoisted the country’s flag in the multiple-stage sport, which involves the completion of the three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines. The prospect of greater achievements seems very imminent.

Among her accolades so far are first place finishes at JTA National Triathlon Championship; the inaugural Jewels Resort Biathlon; the mixed relay at Jakes off Road triathlon; and the Orlando Believe Strong Spirit Triathlon in Florida.

She was also the runner-up female at the Inaugural Caribbean 16-17 Age Group Triathlon, where she placed seventh overall and later placed 22nd out of 51 in the female 16-19 age group at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship Cozumel in Mexico last year.

“The most difficult part is the cycling because it is the longest part of the sport and it is also my most recent addition, but the running comes naturally so I feel comfortable when I run,” the St Andrew High School for Girls student said with a broad smile during a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“But so far it has been great, I have learnt a lot from my experiences abroad and as well from the seniors here and from the knowledge that I have gained I hope to past it on to other junior athletes so they can develop well in the sport,” she added.

Sharpe’s glowing resume saw her meeting the criteria to be named the Young Outstanding Upcoming Talented Headliner (YOUTH) at the recent RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards gala.

The award presented by Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), recognises a young and promising talent of 21 years or younger, who demonstrates the potential for a great future in sports.

“This is really amazing and not only does it motivate me to do better, but it also shows that I have made an impact and I have brought awareness to the sport. So it feels really great to have been recognised and I am hoping to better my performances from last year,” a beaming Sharpe noted.

“I have a few triathlon events that I hope to participate in there is one in February in Cuba and I also made the National Cross Country team to Orlando in March.

“There is a CAMTRI (Central American Triathlon Union) event in Barbados in April and I also got invited by the US triathlon Association to compete in their National Championships in August and hopefully I will get a chance to compete in the world championships again this year in Rotterdam, Netherlands,” she continued.

With such great potential, obviously the expectations from her parents and members of the sporting circle for the year ahead are soaring.

A proud mother, Donna-Kay Sharpe, headlines that list.

“Not to sound cocky, but she is one of the trailblazers for triathlon in Jamaica and she is progressing well, she really has improved and has taken up the sport somewhere ahead of the average person,” the mother told the Observer.

“She is naturally a very good distance runner so I see her doing well at the national level in terms of cross-country for triathlon. I also see her doing well in putting the country on the map, so looking forward to her making it to Tokyo [Olympic Games in 2020) for the experience and then thereafter 2024, where [local triathlon executive] Mr Alan Beckford thinks she will be a good contender,” Mrs Sharpe ended.