Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Meet Olivia, Amanda, and Coco: Up-and-Coming Triathletes, Paratriathlete

September is finally here! And top American women triathletes and cyclists will be competing in the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Chicago, Ill., from September 15-19 and the UCI Road World CyclingChampionships in Richmond, Va., from September 19-27.

American women have dominated the world triathlon scene this year. They are led by Gwen Jorgensen, the reigning ITU world champion, and Sarah True and Katie Zaferes. Paratriathlon, a multisport competition for those with physical challenges, will debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games, and U.S. contenders competing in the Windy City include Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell.

While a few women have already qualified for a coveted spot on Team USA for next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, others are still vying for remaining slots. Cheering them on are three sporty girls, Olivia, Amanda and Coco, who are coming up the ranks and chasing championship titles at the Youth and Junior level.

Olivia Wade, 14 and a freshman in high school in California, competed at the USAT Youth-Junior National Championship this past summer finishing fourth in the Youth Elite division. She began running in second grade and has found her niche in triathlon. Needless to say, the run segment of the race is her favorite. Olivia is a member of the Formula Endurance Team based in San Diego, California.

Do you have a favorite female triathlete?
I am always excited to see Gwen Jorgensen race because no matter how much pain she is in, she always manages to put a smile on her face. I look up to Gwen because her ability to run as well as she does which pushes me to try my best and conquer the run in all my races.

Olivia’s Favorite Books: My overall favorite book is WONDER by R.J. Palacio. I enjoyed this because it showed how everyone should be able to be happy and have friends who love them for who they are no matter what they look like. A couple of my other favorite books are BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee.
Reading in general: A good sports book I would recommend is WITH WINNING IN MIND by Lanny Bassham. When I was injured [hit by a car four years ago] and couldn’t compete for a long time I remember reading a good book, A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE by Ann M. Martin.

Amanda Becker is 10-years-old, lives in Wisconsin, and just started the 5th grade. In 2012, she joined the Chicago-based Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club and has competed in eight races to date. A highlight this past summer was representing the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) at the National Junior Disability Championships in the swimming competition.

What part of the race is your favorite?
Swimming. Even though I can bike and run in races, they make my leg and hips hurt more than swimming.

What female paratriathletes do you admire?
If I have to pick one favorite, it would be Melissa Stockwell [shown above in photo]! I want to be like her someday, and my dream is to go to the Paralympic Games, too!

Would you like to see girls in books who have a prosthesis like you?
I think it would be great to see more girls with prosthetics in all different sports. Maybe if there were more books or news stories about what we can do there would be more girls getting out and playing like me.

Amanda’s Favorite Books: I love all of the JUNIE B. JONES books by Barbara Park and DORK DIARIES by Rachel Renee Russell.
Reading in general: My mom was reading part of the Rudy Ruettiger story to me — he's the guy from the movie Rudy who played football at Notre Dame and overcame challenges. On our way to the National [Junior Disability] Championships in New Jersey, we stopped at Notre Dame and that was neat to see.

Courtney “Coco” Diemar is 11-years-old and in the 6th grade. She lives outside of Chicago and has already won national triathlon and cycling titles. In 2010, at the age of six, she won the IronKids National Triathlon Championship. Last month she was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” for winning the 11-year old USAT Youth-Junior National Championship. Coco competes for the MMTT Mach II Triathlon Team and Junior Twenty16 Cycling Team. Her favorite part of the triathlon is biking.

Cycling races have different events – what do you like/dislike about them?
Overall, I like bike racing because I can draft [tuck in close, behind other competitors] and I have to think about what kind of moves I am going to make. I like criteriums the best because they are usually short, fast, and often have tight turns plus little hills that make them fun. In road races, it can be sort of boring if you are in a race in the middle of nowhere. Time Trials are hard because you are by yourself and if it's windy you cannot draft off of other people.

Since you live so close to Chicago, are you going to watch the ITU Triathlon events?
Yes, I can’t wait to see all the USA women compete since right now they are the best in the world. I have never seen a women's or men's pro race, it will be exciting!

The UCI Road World Championships are in Richmond right after the ITU Worlds – are you going to be following that, too?
I am so excited that my Twenty16 teammate Chloe Dygert will be racing in the Junior Time Trial and Road Race. She won cycling nationals and is really FAST! Kristin Armstrong is also on Twenty16 and competing in the Pro Women's Time Trial, she was a triathlete before being a cyclist, so she is like me.

Coco’s favorite books: LAND OF STORIES Series by Chris Colfer, THE SELECTION Series by Kiara Cass, and MORTAL INSTRUMENTS Series by Cassandra Clare.
Reading in general: I like "fantasy" type books. I love to read before I go to bed. It gives me a good a break before I go to sleep. We also have a subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids that I read every month. My swim coach sometimes will send emails with articles he would like us to read, but usually my sister, brother and I ride our bikes to the library or bookstore and pick out our own books. I also have a Kindle, so I am always downloading books.

USA Triathlon KidZone
USA Cycling


  1. Great post, Brenda! My current WIP features a triathlon. Thanks for introducing us to Olivia, Amanda, and Courtney--powerful girls, courageous athletes.

    1. Thanks Anna - let me know if you have any triathlon-specific questions for your WIP!

  2. Terrific piece, Brenda! What a great way to share the stories of young female triathletes and introduce the sport to others, too.