Only One Gear: Local Athlete Races Toward Success

Zach Young, courtesy of Ali Engin Photography“Be negative and the race will be negative. Be positive and the results will show,” this is the advice Zach Young follows in his athletic career, but it applies for other aspects of his life as well. Between competing in Paratriathlons, forming a career in web design, and worldly travel, Zach has all the positive energy he needs to be successful.


After an internship in Arizona and a training/race camp in Atlanta, Georgia, Zach has finally made it back to his hometown of Cape Girardeau, and stays busy as ever, “This year is the most I’ve traveled.” Zach reflected on his adventures in California, New Mexico, Chicago, and even Japan, “I want to gain experience and learn from the best.”

Zach isn’t far from being one of the best himself. As an athlete Zach competes in Paratriathalons in which he swims, bikes, and races to the finish line much like a mainstream triathlon. With a paratriathlon things are a little different, “I have a special wetsuit for buoyancy,” Zach explained, “I have a handcycle in the bicycle race, and I use a racing wheelchair.” Zach added that a lot of extra work is required for these racing tools, “with a racing wheelchair you only have one gear, and that’s you.”

Zach trains and travels all year around to stay in shape for these demanding sports, but he’s got plenty of motivation, “I want to be my best. My goal is to compete in the paralympics.” Zach plans on applying for the 2016 paralympics. This is a competitive and challenging goal, but Zach is not shirked by potential failure.

“I don’t consider anything a failure because you’re always learning something. I once had a race while it was raining, and the water caused me to skid and put me back another place. But I didn’t fail, it’s just something I have to learn.”

Zach has faced mental and emotional challenges as well, he says it’s his competitive spirit that keeps him going, “When you go to camps and meet new people you see others working so hard, and they’re so good, it lights a fire under me. You just quit complaining and step up your game.”

Zach still has over a year for the olympics, and until then he’s keeping busy as a freelance web designer, fishing, watching the Cardinals, and getting ready for his next big race which will be the Detroit ITU Paratriathlon taking place August 16.

Zach is a member of Dare2Tri - a Chicago-based organization that helps those with physical disabilities compete in athletics. He is also associated with the Howard Aslinger Foundation in Cape Girardeau who provide scholarships and equipment to disabled athletes. You can provide support to H.A.F. by attending their Summer Music Fest on August 15.

With 30 triathlons, marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, and more under his belt Zach plans on staying relevant in sports for a long time. “I started four years ago when my dad challenged me to try the Trail of Tears Triathlon, I’ve been going ever since.”



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