Kamehameha graduate Davis Kaahanui was just starting his career as a pro triathlete when he suffered his first major injury.
He's currently recovering from a torn achilles. But he remains undeterred from his dream to represent Team USA in the Summer Olympics, possibly in 2020.
"Ha'aheo loa au i ke ku no ho'i i ka United States, i keia mea pa'ani," says Davis Kaahanui. For those who don't speak Hawaiian, that means, "I am very honored to represent Hawaii and the U.S. in this tournament, in this sporting event. I am humbled as well."
Davis Kaahanui started speaking Hawaiian when he was 3. He attended Punana Leo o Honolulu and Kula Kaiapuni O Anuenue, and eventually graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 2014.
He adds, "He kanaka ha'aheo au a mamake au e ho'oikaika i ko'u iwi Hawai'i. I am proud to be Hawaiian and I strive to keep my roots strong."
And those roots are strong.
"Ku," as his parents call him, is a quarter Hawaiian.
When Hawaii News Now spoke to Ku, he was on track to represent Team USA in in the "ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam."
He will have to cancel because of injury. But he's working hard to get back citing a drive that he didn't have as a child.
"I was like the laziest kid of all time," he says, laughing. "I used to never exercise. I used to just sit on the couch and listen to rap music basically. My mom would be like 'Ku, you're so lazy. Come for a run with me.'"
So what changed?
His sophomore year his P.E. teacher suggested he take up cross country, and for some reason, he said yes. With little training and even less understanding of what he was getting into. he came in 25th place at the state meet. That really got him going.
"I remember telling my science teacher one time she's like, 'what are you gonna do next year for cross country?' I was like, 'oh yeah, I think I'm gonna win states next year,'" he says.
And he did. He won as a junior and then repeated as a senior.
But during the off-season of his junior year, he got injured and so he started cycling.
Eventually he tried his first triathlon and came in third as a 16-year-old. That's despite the fact that he hated swimming.
"I went to the beach and stuff but I think I was more afraid of the water really," he noted. "Sometimes I'm like why am I even in triathlon? Because I used to be terrified of the water."
Most of his success so far has come here at home, in warm temperatures.
International competition will take him to unfamiliar environments -- cold lakes and cobble stone roads So he recently moved to England to train.
"But when you race as a pro you have to race in environments you don't, you have to race in England, Germany, Sweden, all these different countries," he says. "So I have to like get used to like just how different it's gonna be so this whole year is about getting my confidence up."
Ku says draws strength from his family: his grandfather, who's pure Hawaiian, and his dad and uncles who are quick to remind him the importance of culture and history.
"Right now it's like my time. They've passed the baton to me now. I only realize now it's my time to show the kids coming up and looking up to me now."
Right now Ku has no timeline for his recovery. But he hopes to get back to competition sometime next year.
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