This week’s Wonder kid is 14-year-old Dubai-based Rio Watson, who last weekend defied the odds to complete the Ashurst Triathlon (solo).
This was the latest in a series of awe inspiring achievements for Rio and the Watson family, who pulled together in the face of adversity to inspire millions of people around the world with their incredible sporting journey.
The History of #TeamAngelWolf
This story starts back in October 2003 in Hawaii, when accomplished triathlete Nick Watson was competing in one of the most gruelling physical pursuits on the planet, the Hawaii Kona Ironman. Battling exhaustion and fatigue, he used the thought of one day competing alongside his then unborn child as motivation to get him through the remainder of the race.
When son Rio was born with a rare chromosome disorder that would make human functions, such as walking and talking, extremely challenging, Nick’s dream of racing alongside his son looked lost.
However, after a eureka moment, the Watsons realised that, with a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking, it could still be possible for Nick to race side by side with his son. As Nick explains, that moment was the catalyst for the birth of #TeamAngelWolf:
“After many life traumas, it caused the family to re think priorities - family and health was at the top of the list. With this we decided to try a Tri with Rio in the most creative, innovative way we could think of. We got the equipment, tried one race - Rio LOVED it and so it lead from there to racing every weekend; as we discovered we had found Rio's true passion in life - racing!”
Since then, the Watson family have been unstoppable. In the past two years Rio and his team have racked up over 2,300km, including 6 Half Ironman Triathlons, marathons, triathlons/aquathons/Duathlon/swim/bike/run races of varying distances, obstacle challenge races in the desert, The 7 Cyclist Challenge (3 days cycling through each 7 Emirates) and tower stair climbs.
The best part? The whole Watson clan (Dad – Nick, Mum – Delphine, and younger sister – Tia) all get involved in the races, making it a real family affair.
Far from being content with his already impressive track record, Rio and his family decided it was time for him to step out on his own, by competing in his first ever solo race, the Ashurst Triathlon, which took place on Friday morning in Jebel Ali.
Speaking about Rio’s first solo triathlon, father Nick explains:
“It was a tough challenge for Rio to complete with his disabilities; he needed his mum's full assistance; but I think it is fair to say that he enjoyed every moment, he always had a big smile, even at the toughest of moments.”
He smiled and giggled throughout the whole swim, whilst the run was the hardest, as walking is a real challenge for Rio, especially distance and uneven surfaces. It was also hot by the time we got to that discipline in the race, which made it harder!
But he still did it, with a big smile, and proved that anything is possible!”
The triathlon community worldwide has been captivated, leading to a huge social media following for #TeamAngelWolf.
Understandably, the thirst for the story has been unquenchable, and in the past two years Nick and Delphine have had the opportunity to share their amazing story with over 6,000 school students, as well as over 1,000 corporates.
“Being able to inspire young minds, our future leaders and decision makers, is a very rewarding job, it is always the highlight of our week!
We also feel privileged be able to motivate corporate workers, by relating our story and mission, to their daily life (at work and privately), proving the importance of teamwork, not giving up, getting back up after an obstacle, making a positive out of something that appears negative, making a difference, believing ...
The talks have been incredibly well received, with wonderful feedback, with companies/schools approaching us and many return invites.
If you’ve read this far you’ll not be surprised to hear that the Watsons are in no mood to hang up their Speedo’s.
“We still have Ride Ajman, Oceanic Triathlon this season; we hope to start participating in races overseas too, to be able to spread the #TeamAngelWolf mission messages further!
The big dream is for us to return to compete in Kona Hawaii Ironman - as Nick did 14 years ago, when Delphine was pregnant with Rio, but this time to complete the dream, just slightly differently to the original plan, do it as #TeamAngelWolf - Nick & Rio doing it together! We would love to do this when Rio turns 15!”
And we have no doubts that they will…a truly inspirational story from an incredible young boy and his family.
Rio Watson – a Wonder Kid indeed!