Early exercise the secret to Trengove's success

Olympian Jessica Trengove shares the secret to her high-achieving family’s success.

Exercise, it seems, is in the Trengove family’s DNA. Jess is an Olympic marathon runner, her brother, Jack, is an AFL player for the Demons and their sister Abbie represented South Australia for rowing.

This love of physical activity all started in the regional community of Naracoorte, south-east of Adelaide, where Jess and her siblings grew up.

Sport was at the heart of everything in Naracoorte, and Jess says her family was involved in it all.

“From as early as I can remember we’d go out to the football club on Thursday nights for training and on the weekends to watch mum play netball and dad play football.”

Jess says her mum and dad were great role models.

“By spending your early years developing the basic motor skills, you build the confidence to be able to enjoy sport with your peers in the school yard. By knowing how to throw, catch and kick a ball, you can get a lot more out of the school sport experiences,” says Jess.

Trengove family at triathalon
The Trengove family at the Kingston Triathlon.

“We had a deputy principal in primary school who was really passionate about cross country and every class would train for school cross country.”

It was those cross country runs in primary school that launched Jess’ career as a runner.

In 2012 Jess’ success reached dizzying heights. She competed in her first marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 31 minutes and two seconds - an Olympic A qualifying time. 

That same year Jess represented Australia in the women’s marathon at the London Olympics and now achieved a qualifying standard for Rio in 2016, where she is eyeing off a place on the podium.

Running has taken Jess around the world, but it’s those early days in Naracoorte that the Olympian credits for her success.

“Marathon racing is such an endurance-based event,” says Jess. You start building up your fitness base from the moment you can move, basically.”

“We see the African dominance in distance running and I think a lot of that can be attributed to an active upbringing. These athletes develop a strong cardiovascular system and start conditioning their muscles to prolonged exercise at a young age.”

“I certainly think being an active youngster has really set me up for the running that I enjoy today.”

Traditions like the Trengove family’s regular bike rides brought out a healthy level of competition – something that still drives all of her siblings today.

Jess and dad on bikes
Jess and her father on their regular family bike rides.

“My Dad, Mum, sister and I would be out the front and my brother (Jack) would be peddling like a mad man off the back, trying to keep up,” says Jess. “It wasn’t too long before he was ahead of us.”

A few decades have passed since their last family bike ride, but this year Jess and her father are planning to ride in the 36-kilometre Bupa Challenge Tour in the Santos Tour Down Under.

“I think dad has gained a lot more experience on the bike since those rides back when I was 7 or 8 years old,” says Jess.

“I think this ride, even though it’s only 36 kilometres, is going to be a good challenge for me.”

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