Recently media has created a negative association between female athletes and the word “beautiful.” When news sources bring up the fact that a female athlete is beautiful it has the tendency to dumb down athletic accomplishments and shift focus to appearance rather than ability. Since appearance has nothing to do with this article, let me explain why I am using the word beautiful in reference to the JFT crew women. I have spent the last month here in Las Playitas, Fuerteventura training with these amazing women and have gotten a first-hand look into everything that goes on within Joel Filliol’s squad. Seeing a bunch of athletes (from literally all over the world) become one unit to create an environment where the mentality is “work together to be the best” is what is truly beautiful about the women of the JFT crew.
Text and images by Tommy Zaferes
Who Are They?
Vendula Frintova (Czech Republic) finished fourth at WTS Auckland in 2015 and will compete in her third Olympics in Rio. She was also one of only three athletes to have competed in every WTS race in 2015.
Emma Jackson (Australia) is a new addition to the crew in 2016, she already has some major podiums in her resume, but is excited to work with the other women to create even greater results.
Rachel Klamer (Netherlands) finished the 2015 season ranked sixth in the world. She had some bad luck traveling to this camp with her entire bike bag being lost for a week, but took it in stride and got her training done on a rented bike and the one pair of racing flats she traveled in.
Lisa Perterer (Austria) finished 2015 ranked 19th in the world. She has been learning more and more from Joel and the other women at every camp and we should expect big things from her in 2016!
Rebecca Robisch (Germany) is another new addition to Joel’s squad in 2016. She finished 2015 ranked 13th in the world, but with the new change in training environment, don’t be surprised if you see her on the podium this season!
Carol Routier (Spain) lead out of the water at five of the nine WTS races she started at. She had a breakthrough race at WTS Edmonton where she finished fourth overall proving that all the hard training with the JFT crew women has truly helped make her a well-rounded triathlete.
Katie Zaferes (USA) had six WTS podiums this year, and while she had such a stellar season, she narrowly missed her first chance to qualify for the Rio Olympics. This year she is motivated more than ever and is looking forward to the final chance to qualify for Rio at WTS Yokohama on May 14.
Where They Are Training
The landscape in Las Playitas, Fuerteventura is not short of challenges. Long rolling hills and extremely strong winds provide a perfect base training environment where the athletes get just as strong mentally as they do physically.
There are endless trails all around the volcanic terrain of the sports resort where the JFT Crew is based for December and January.
The resort also has a beautiful 50m outdoor pool which provides the athletes with all the motivation they need to get in their daily 5k swim sessions.
Of course there is also a giant ocean as well, perfect for weekly open water sessions.
The Perfect Combination
In 2015, the JFT Crew had five women in the top 21 of the overall WTS, including nine podiums and countless top eight finishes, but Joel’s squad isn’t “a group full of the best athletes”, it’s “a group that creates the best athletes”.
An amazing coach and a stellar training environment do not guarantee success with a squad. The magic recipe is how a group uses those things PLUS their dedication, communication and motivation together to create greatness. These women have done an incredible job at implementing all these things, and have created the most elite squad in the world – and that is what makes the JFT women truly beautiful.
Be sure to follow all the JFT women, Joelfilliol, and the hashtag #JFTCrew for daily updates as they head into the 2016 World Triathlon Series, Olympic qualification, and the Rio Olympics.
Big thank you to Tommy Zaferes for his insight into the JFT crew. Do yourself a favour and follow him on social media, if not just for the photos, then for the Dad jokes!