Like most young triathletes, James Cook once dreamed of reaching the Olympic podium.
“I was on the Olympic pathway,” said Cook.
“After some less than spectacular results, I realized that wasn’t the path for me.”
But Cook still wanted to compete, so the Canadian national triathlon team paired him up with Jon Dunkerley, a visually impaired para-triathlete who needed a guide.
“Not only am I racing, but I’m also making sure that Jon is getting through the race safely and as fast as possible,” Cook adds. “So that extra challenge has been a really big learning curve for me.”
After three years of training and competing side-by-side, all over the world, the two are nearly inseparable. In fact, this interview took place at the one rare time when Jon Dunkerley was out of town and thus not training alongside James.
“When I go out for runs by myself, I’m kind of like ‘where’s Jon? I’m missing my buddy’,” said Cook. “So my mind has definitely switched from individual to team sport.”
For the duo, 2020 marks their biggest year to date.
“It’s our Paralympic year,” James says with excitement. “We’ve been training for the last three years so it’s our final push.”
The two will have to train and compete like never before, but with qualifier races all around the world, just getting there is half the battle.
“We’ve got some travel coming up and the costs associated with that travel are substantial,” said Cook. “So we’re looking to kind of help ease that blow.”
The two are kicking off their fund-raising campaign with a 10K run/walk around the Victoria airport. Entry to the run is by donation and details can be found at www.jamescooktri.com
“Depending on how this goes, I’d definitely be open to doing more not only for fundraising, but I also believe that our strength and our value to society is to inspire others to get out and be more active by sharing our story,” said Cook, “and our journey to competing on the world stage.”