By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

Sidney Hintz is one focused 12-year old.

The local resident is already an experienced triathlete and qualified for the Youth National Championship Triathlon, which was held in Wisconsin this past weekend.

She placed 12th overall in her age group against the best triathletes in the nation.

On Sunday, Hintz hopes to have a good showing at the 23rd annual Crescent City Triathlon, which is sponsored by Wild Rivers Multi Sports, which she is a member of.

To prepare for the grueling task of swimming, running and riding a bike in consecutive order, Hintz is usually at the Smith River by 6 a.m to begin her training.

She said she enjoys the challenge of pushing herself to achieve her goals.

Shawn Burke, co-founder of Wild Rivers and Sidney's' coach and trainer, said what makes her so unique is the focus she displays at such a young age to push herself during a race and will herself to finish and do well.

andquot;She's going to go far in her life with her dedication,andquot; he said. andquot;You can see the drive in her.andquot;

Burke added he was proud of her finish in Wisconsin and said it shows she is one of the best triathletes in the nation in her age group.

For Sidney, taking part in triathlons is a challenge that she enjoys. She even has the goal of one day competing in an Iron Man Triathlon because andquot;it's one of the toughest things you can do in triathlonandquot; she said.

A proud achievement for Sidney happened this spring during the Battle of the Borders bicycle race.

During the challenging two-day, four-stage contest, which was held in locations in Del Norte and Curry counties, Hintz faced a daunting challenge that has hindered even experienced participants, going from the bottom to the top of steep Gardner Ridge Road in the Brookings area - a three and one-half mile ride up a steep 8 percent grade. Though quite tired, Hintz pushed her way and made it to the top - the youngest participant to accomplish the feat. She was 11 at the time.

andquot;She had to dig deep to get all the way up and she pulled that off,andquot; Burke said.

Sidney has the ability to turn on the intensity when needed, but to turn it off when she is not competing, he said. Burke said she has an andquot;inner soul strength.andquot; which serves her quite well.

Sydney said while it was difficult - she was determined to finish and push herself to complete the daunting task.

Susan Roberts, a fellow member of Wild Rivers has nothing but praise for Hintz.

Roberts, who is set to compete in the World Triathlon Championships in Germany next month in the 60-64 year age group, said Hintz possesses a drive to do well, but is also very caring towards her fellow team members. She shows maturity beyond her years.

andquot;She is one of the most dedicated young women I have ever met,andquot; she said.

On many occasions, Hintz, as well as some of the other younger team members encouraged Roberts as she finished a race, many times running next to her to give her a morale boost.

andquot;She very supportive of other people,andquot; Roberts said, adding she also has a passion for the sport.

andquot;She loves it,andquot; Roberts said.

Hintz, who has been swimming for a number of years, took up triathlon when she was 10.

'I wanted to try something different,andquot; she said.

One of Sidney's' biggest fans and supporters is her mom, Sandra, who can be seen at many races, cheering her daughter on - even running next to her at the end of races to give her support.

Sandra said it's important to her to support her daughter's endeavors and said she is proud of all she has accomplished.

andquot;It's been such a positive experience for her,andquot; Sandra Hintz said. andquot;She's really grown.andquot;

Sandra added that the sport has been good for her daughter's health. To be in peak physical condition, Sidney is very careful of what she eats. No more junk or salty foods for her anymore.

andquot;I can't stand salty or greasy stuff now,andquot; Sidney said.

She is quick to thank her family, coaches and fellow members for their encouragement. She said she would not be able to do what she does without them andquot;giving me a lot of support.andquot;

Sandra Hintz added that even when they are out of the area before an event, Burke is always available if they have any questions or concerns.