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Triathlete Has Eye on Ironman Contest

August 02, 2000|JEFFREY JEN

Flipping through the TV channels at his Moorpark home last summer, Jared Tavasalian came across a screening of an Ironman triathlon competition in Hawaii.

He was intrigued by the determination of the athletes involved.

"It was so emotional to watch," Tavasalian recalled. "You see all these people struggling throughout and then crossing the finish line, some with one arm or in wheelchairs, going through all that distance. I was crying by the end of it."

And Tavasalian is no shrinking violet himself. He established a reputation in Ventura County as a tenacious, 5-foot-7 point guard for the Moorpark High School basketball team.

But the images of the athletes dragging themselves through 2 1/2 miles of swimming, 112 miles of bike riding and a full marathon run of 26 miles and 300 meters left quite an impression on him.

So when his high school basketball career ended in February, Tavasalian, 18, took up triathlon.

Look at his rigorous training regimen and it's not hard to see why his friends are amazed. He spends up to four hours a day either swimming, biking or running.

Tavasalian hopes to participate in the Ironman California competition next May in Los Angeles. In the meantime, he competes monthly in smaller events.

"This is now my passion," Tavasalian said. "This is what I love to do. You get a special feeling when you cross the finish line. It is an unbelievable experience."

Those who know him as an athlete don't find it surprising that Tavasalian has gone into such a demanding sport. As a relatively short point guard, Tavasalian displayed the hard work and grit necessary to succeed, according to Tim Bednar, his basketball coach at Moorpark High.

His focus and determination eventually led to a starting spot on the team his senior season.

But the transition from basketball player to triathlete hasn't been easy.

"When I played basketball, I just lifted weights as much as I could," Tavasalian said. "I was usually the shortest player out there, so I had to get strong in order to not get pushed around. As a triathlete, you need longer, more durable muscles. I've actually had to slim down a bit in order to get the proper body frame."

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