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Infirmities no impediment training for the triathlon

Despite facing individual health issues, a father, mother and son trained hard and took on a triathlon together.
“For all of us to be at the park together – that’s a big thing,” said Linda Cantelmi.
The trio competed most recently in a triathlon held at Latta Park Plantation in Charlotte in June. The triathlon included a 750 meter swim, 17 mile bike ride and 5 kilometer run.
Linda first decided she wanted to compete in a triathalon 18 years ago when she was pregnant with the couple’s son, Alex.
At the time, she was sick with Lupus. As she watched people with handicaps competing in the race and succeeding, she felt inspired.
“I couldn’t even get the cheer out – I was so emotionally moved,” she said.
She told her husband, Phil, “That’s what I want to do when I get better.”
She stayed true to her word. Over the years, the husband and wife have competed in triathlons together and separately.
More recently, their son, Alex, now 18, has competed alongside them. It hasn’t been an easy year for Alex – he was hit by a car in the fall and received a pacemaker in the winter due to a heart condition he has dealt with since birth.
“We’ve all faced something at some point,” said his father, Phil, who survived quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40.
Perhaps because they’ve dealt with serious health issues, fitness and health are important issues to the Cantelmis. Family members encourage and compete with each other. Phil and Linda especially feed off of each other’s energy.
“We’ve always been competitive in everything,” Linda said.
When it comes to their son, however, the parents have given up hope.
“There’s no way you can compete against him,” Phil said.
In fact, Alex recently received a cross-country scholarship from Western State College of Colorado.
The reason he loves participating in triathlons is the same reason he enjoys cross-country running.
“I like passing people,” he said.
Training for an event of this magnitude requires a year-round committment.
“If you put your mind down to it, I think anybody could do it,” Phil said. “it’s just a time-committment thing.”
While it may take time and discipline, training for the triathlon requires very little travel.
With Lake Norman in their backyard, the Cantelmis don’t go far for a swim. They also run and bike in their neighborhood.
“It’s not like you have to go somewhere to train – you walk out the front door,” Linda said.
And there’s always a work out buddy on hand. Alex may be going off to college in the fall, but his 13-year-old sister, Christina, will soon be taking her place in the family training schedule.
by Sarah Grano

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