Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Epilepsy doesn't deter a triathlete

Michael Poole doesn't remember his first epileptic seizure. He was cycling. When he came to, bruised and battered, he thought his triathlon career was over.

"It wasn't pretty," the 22-year-old said. "I went through a hard couple of months and wondered how I could possibly go on."

Poole was one of the best young competitive cyclists in New Zealand, and he was just 18. A gifted runner and swimmer as well, many thought he would be the next great champion from a nation that has produced so many gifted triathletes. Then epilepsy nearly derailed his dreams.

"For a while I wasn't sure if it was going to work out," he said. "But I put my trust in my doctors, and we created a plan. I have been able to manage it, and I think it has made me stronger mentally and a better triathlete."

Now Poole, a junior majoring in chemical engineering at the University of South Florida, is tearing up the Lifetime Tri circuit, one of the most competitive international distance triathlon series in the United States. The next race is Sunday in Minneapolis.

"It is all about the points," said Poole, who has placed third in two events so far this season. "I am in it for the long run."

In addition to his top finishes in Miami and Austin, Texas, he delivered a stellar performance in this year's Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K.

"I was pretty happy," he said of his third-place finish in Tampa. "Most of those guys, all they do is run."

Poole also finished in the Top 20 at this year's St. Anthony's Triathlon, which draws the best Olympic-distance triathletes from around the world.

"The field is always so tough," he said. "It is the best of the best."

But before St. Anthony's, and every other triathlon, Poole's health comes first.

"They don't know what triggers (a seizure)," he said. "There are some indications that it could have something to do with stress and diet. Both of these things come up during a triathlon. …When it is a big race it is hard not to feel stress."

So Poole pays close attention to what he eats and drinks. He also makes sure that he always has someone who knows about his condition at every race."

"It is always in the back of my mind," he said. "But you can't let it stop you. You have to do the best you can and create a different pathway for yourself."

Poole finds it hard to balance his professional triathlon career and his demanding major.

"I figured if I was going to pay for school, I might as well make it worth something," he said. "In triathlon, you are always just one bike crash away from a career-ending injury. So I feel like it is important to have something to fall back on."

When Poole is not traveling for triathlons — in addition to the Lifetime Tri circuit, he also competes in the national 5150 Tri Series — the multisport athlete offers his services to several epilepsy support groups.

"I work a lot with kids," he said. "I love to share my story. I want them to know that there is a way. You can have an active, productive life — you just have to be smart and plan. Then you can do anything."

In the sport of triathlon, the 22-year-old is still a rookie. Most top triathletes don't peak until their 30s, so Poole has a long way to go.

"I'll keep at it," he said. "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it."

Contact Terry Tomalin at [email protected]

Comments
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center.Puddy meets Homer Simpson.Actually, Puddy met Terry the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Sunday vs. Twins1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $20-$300; available at Tropicana Field box office, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of game.Promotion: Mascot socks for kids 14 a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosNHRA: SpringNationals2 p.m.FS1IndyCar: Grand Prix of Alabama3 p.m.NBCSNBaseballTwins at Rays1 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Brewers2 p.m.FSFIndians at Orioles2 p.m.MLBCubs at Rockies (in progress)4 p.m.MLBNationals at Dodgers8 p.m.ESPNColle...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Yankees give top prospect Gleyber Torres a shot in majors

Yankees give top prospect Gleyber Torres a shot in majors

Gleyber Torres cannot help an erratic staff of starting pitchers. Nor can he help shake Giancarlo Stanton from his April funk. But the Yankees hope that calling up Torres from Triple A on Saturday will provide a jolt before they fall much farther beh...
Updated: 12 hours ago