Missionary Coaches Guatemalan Youth Triathlon Team to Victory in Tikal

LEHIGH ACRES, FL/TIKAL, GUATEMALA — Several months ago missionary Paul Heier was training lifeguards in first aid and CPR at the public beach as part of his ministry to first responders when he was approached by some teenagers. The teen athletes explained that they love the sport of triathlon, but that no one was helping them and they needed lots of help if they were going to compete after the Pandemic.

Missionary was training lifeguards in first aid, CPR at the beach in ministry to first responders when he was approached by youthPaul, who is also a triathlon fan, agreed to help them. Immediately, Paul’s assistant, Kevin Leiva, took on the role of coach as well. The two began to coach a group of four that has now turned into almost thirty young people. Eight of the young people traveled to Tikal, the famous archeological site of the Mayan ruins in the northern part of Guatemala to compete.

Two competitions were held: one for children under age 15 called “Niño Maya” and one for adults called “Hombre Maya.” The two seventeen year old team members, Fernando Sayes, and Sabino Cruz competed in the 16-19 year old category of the grueling “Hombre Maya” triathlon which involved a 1 km swim, a 34 km bike ride up rolling hills, and then a 6 km run up to the pyramids of Tikal. Fernando won first place in his category and Sabino second place.

The day before, the children competed in El Remate which is a village just outside of Tikal. They had an amazing experience and ended up placing in several categories. Sander Catalan won first place in the 11-12 year old boys category, Silas Heier, won first place in the 9-10 boys, Deivyd Catalan, first in the 13-14 boys, Pedro Matzar second, Andy Mayen, third, and Pablo Heier, fourth.

Thankfully, some donors from the mission have stepped up to help pay for travel expenses, food, vitamins, goggles, helmets, running shoes, and other needs. The athletes from the team are from extremely humble homes and need a lot of love and support. Most of them receive school scholarships and attend a homework club at the missions house after the daily practices.

The triathletes also volunteer at the town dump where Heier’s wife, Tania, helps and ministers to one-hundred families who live there and sort through the garbage to survive. The team is also looking for more equipment and more support as they have big goals for the future.


CONTACT: Paul Heier, 239-351-9960

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