An inspired Lukas Vercbicas stormed to the win at the 2011 Junior ITU World Championships before shipping off to Oregon to run track for said University. Now Verzbicas has announced that he is not competing for the University of Oregon but instead will be returning to his first love - triathlon. He will enroll as a student at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs in January and be part of the US Elite Triathlon Academy.
Slowtwitch: Thanks for chatting with us again.
Lukas: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for showing me the attention in this difficult time, it means a lot. Many are spitting in my face right now but life is not on hold and because an athlete’s career isn’t a lifetime I must move on and make the most of the time I have.
ST: It was big news to hear that you left Oregon to pursue the triathlon career. It must not have been easy to make that call.
Lukas: Yes the decision was very difficult, but it wasn’t like I decided this just now. I was already in Colorado for a week. Oregon of course tried to stop me from making this decision, but I didn’t want to be jumping back into the same river. The decision is final and now it’s just time for me to fully focus on triathlon training and racing.
ST: What did your family and friends think about the decision?
Lukas: My family was actually trying to keep me in Oregon. They kept in real good contact with the coaches, letting them know everything there is to know about my training and me and just tried to overall help them get to know me in all ways so that I keep improving. This decision came out fully from me; only in the final stages did my family say that the doors are open for me here to become a successful triathlete. There was a mix of some friends wanting me to stay while others were doing everything they could for me to come back.
ST: In our last interview you made the statement that triathlon will always be your first sport. No doubt about that now.
Lukas: Yes it’s funny how sometimes the first statement you make is the most true.
ST: You will have a nice setup in Colorado at the Elite Triathlon Academy. How familiar are you with the folks there?
Lukas: I know the Academy athletes from my youth, we go back all the way to 2006 when we were first teammates on the Multisport Madness Triathlon Team. I’ve been close with USA Triathlon staff for years now.
ST: Is it fair to say that you have a good connection with Jarrod Shoemaker, and how has he helped you?
Lukas: Yes I have a connection with Jarrod. When we had camp in the spring my team and I trained together with him and his wife Alicia in Florida. With this I would like to add that Hunter Kemper has helped me very much these last few years and also that I’ve learned many life lessons from Mark Fretta right here in the Springs (he is a very wise man…)
ST: I guess you don't have to worry about NCAA eligibility?
Lukas: No longer need to worry.
ST: But not everything will just fall in place and along those lines it seems you have to think now about sponsors too. Do you see that as something that will come naturally?
Lukas: Right now in my plans I’m in search for the right agency to represent me that will help me kick off my career as a triathlete. I’m open to all options, listening to what everyone has to say and offer.
ST: Which area do you think you will need sponsor help and where do you think you'll be fine?
Lukas: This is a hard question to answer, all I can say right now is the more the better I guess. Of course I can’t settle for just anything. I want to be represented by brands and companies that are a good fit to me, I would be proud to display, and that I would use and interact with happily.
ST: Quite a few good triathletes don't have great running shoe sponsorships, when compared to some serious Pro runners. Is that surprising to you and something you hope will be different for you?
Lukas: I would like it to be different for me, how that will play out we’ll have to see, but even now I’m in contact with shoe companies.
ST: Anything else new and exciting?
Lukas: The water at the Olympic Training Center isn’t too cold, that’s the biggest relief for me. Also, I already lost weight having come back; I was affected by the freshman 15 in Oregon… Well everything here is really perfect for training; such great facilities, air (6.200 feet altitude), most delicious and nutritious food, and the most supportive people around. I am so grateful to have this opportunity. All that is left is to find the right sponsors and get ready for the upcoming season; can’t wait for the journey ahead. ☺