Dreydon Sobanja had sunk to a dangerous low before deciding to turn it all around with the help of triathlon and will take the next step in that life changing process when he competes at the Contact Tri Series in Whangamata on January 3rd.
Overweight and with work pressure piling up, his mental health deteriorated to a dark place and depression took hold.
Dreydon, who turns 40 in January, realised something drastic needed to be done to snap him out of it and get his life back. It was at that point that triathlon came onto the scene as something positive to grab hold of.
"Things were pretty dim and dark before I made the big decision to sort my life out. My family know how hard it got for me, I was a very depressed man,” he said.
"I had to stop focussing on work so much and sort my health out and once I grabbed onto triathlon that was it, I was addicted pretty quickly.
"It's good to look back and think ‘I've put that demon to rest' and moved on with life. If my story makes someone else who's feeling the same way I was realise they can do something about it then it's worth it.
Triathlon training gave Dreydon something to get excited about again, and the more he trained the better he felt. The training also helped physically as he lost more than 20kgs and his body shape began to transform.
In April 2011 Dreydon competed in his first ever triathlon at the Panasonic People's Tri in Mission Bay.
"I wasn't there to compete I was there to complete. At the time it seemed like a massive thing to do but afterwards it was a great feeling of achievement.
"I really enjoyed the experience and was surprised at how well I went. It really encouraged me to do more in the sport.”
Dreydon has done a huge amount of training in 2011 and is now eyeing an age group spot at next year's World Triathlon Series Grand Final on Auckland's waterfront.
He will compete in nine races around the country during the summer season starting in Whangamata on the 3rd January, with his ultimate goal to secure World Champs qualification at the Kinloch round of the Contact Tri Series in February.
"I missed out on my age group at the Auckland ITU World Cup so I'm going to Kinloch to try and qualify. I'm working pretty hard to make sure I'm at the top of my age group there.”
With less than one season under his belt, Dreydon insists he's hooked on the sport and will be around for a long time to come.
Over time he would like his story to continue to inspire people while he is also hoping to set up a programme to help kids realise their potential and fulfil their dreams.
So if you see Dreydon Sobanja swim, run or cycle past you in Whangamata on Tuesday January 3rd, give him a special shout out knowing what the sport is helping him achieve in his life.
Contact Tri Series
Monday 2 January
Registration Williamson Park 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Tuesday 3 January
Registration Williamson Park 7:00am - 8:00am
Sprint Men 7:45am
Sprint Women 7:48am
Trophy - Standard Men 8:30am
Trophy – Standard Women 8:33am
Trophy – Standard Teams 8:35am
Contact 3:9:3 Men 10:45am
Contact 3:9:3 Women 10:47am
Contact 3:9:3 Team 10:49am
Contact 1:2:1Boys 12:00pm
Contact 1:2:1 Girls 12:10pm
Prize-Giving Williamson Park 12:45pm
Enter online at www.triseries.co.nz