Congratulations, Sika Henry, you’ve signed your first contract to play a professional sport: road cycling in Europe. Tell us about the motivation to become a pro triathlete and do triathlons over running as your first sport, instead of just getting more paid as a professional cyclist.
My parents came from Kenya so they could have more opportunities. They tried running, and it didn’t work out, so my dad told my mom he was going to start coaching running when I was a kid. That’s why I became a cyclist. I went from being a cyclists to running a club with my dad on the whole team level up until the national team, when I was 17, when I decided to switch to triathlon because it was better for what I wanted to do and better for what I wanted to do than for what I had done in cycling so far.
I think I could have done more, but I think a few things might have been better if I would have tried something new.
It’s very common for college athletes to think that they’ll want to play pro, but they change their mind when they start to see how much time and effort is required, how much money is involved, or just being away from their friends. I feel like that’s something a lot of athletes that end up playing pro is not aware of, and I feel like I was fortunate that I went through the school system and know I had a clear sense of what it would require to be a pro athlete. I did not play baseball [until I was 17], for example, because it’s much easier to know the rules and make a career out of playing professional baseball. It’s not always that easy to play pro sports for a while, and I just took the opportunity when it came.
How long did it take to get to the point that you were able to start your pro cycling career?
Before this, it took me about six years to get to this point, to put the work in, to see results and then just being able to live the dream and do it full-time is great.
What are some of the first steps you need to take on your road to becoming a pro triathlete?
I have to have a lot of confidence that I can win — no matter what event I am running in — and also have a lot of confidence that I am strong enough to help the team succeed, and I can do that, and I’m a better teammate because I know what I’m doing.
What does a typical training regimen entail?
It differs from sport to sport depending on what I want to do and where I want to go. In triathlon, I have to do a lot of training to make sure I am in peak condition, even though I’m not running with a team because then I will break down in races, so if I do the leg workout and the running on my own, I tend to break down at the start, because the calf muscles aren’t ready to take that kind of load.
For road cycling, I have to put in a lot of time on my own training because I have to do my own leg workout, and then I have to do a lot of travel because my sport is a team sport, so I have to do a lot of travel to get to where I am needing to be for the races.
I also have to work on my diet and fitness a lot because you can’t expect to build a team around you like I’m used to in cycling. You need to work with people, and you have to do everything yourself, and that’s very hard because if I don’t prepare well and do everything properly, it hurts the team.