While rarely a headline-maker in his own right, Tom Bishop has been a dependable fixture of the World Triathlon scene for plenty of years now.
A patient man waiting for the chance to truly cut it at the big championships, could 2022 be the year when it’s his name up in lights?
Who is Tom Bishop?
While he might not have reached the heights of those around him, Tom Bishop – another product of the Leeds conveyor belt of impeccable triathlon talent – may yet have his moment in the spotlight as his contemporaries and compatriots run off into the sunset.
Others may have made the headlines, but Bishop has shown himself a dependable team-mate, willing to step into the breech when required, while also proving to be an extremely valuable member of Britain’s mixed relay squads, a format at which he’s had notable success in the past in both ETU and ITU events.
A non-competing reserve on the Team GB squad that travelled to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, Bishop has only stepped onto an individual World Triathlon Series (WTS) podium once, back in 2017 when he ran Javier Gómez close in Abu Dhabi. That was half a decade ago now.
After a disappointing 2019 season when he only reached the top 10 of a single WTS race, his post-pandemic results have been a little underwhelming and his failure to make the team for the Tokyo Olympics was a personal disappointment. But, at 30, Bishop still has time on his side.
With some of those around casting their gaze in the direction of long-distance racing, this coming season offers the perfect opportunity for him to truly make his mark on the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) series, for the history graduate to make his own history.
How old is Tom Bishop?
Tom Bishop was born on 9 July 1991, making him 30 years old.
Tom Bishop’s career highlights
June 2008: A first slice of European glory
Aged just 16, Bishop travels to the Netherlands where he wins the ETU Junior European Cup in Holten.
September 2010: Bishop proves himself Hungary for success
At the WTS Grand Final in Budapest comes more success in the junior competition when Bishop takes silver. He was only two seconds away from the gold.
June 2012: Racing with the big boys
Still 20 years of age, this season Bishop has been bouncing between competing as an U23 and competing with the elite ranks. His arrival in the latter is confirmed by victory in the ITU Sprint European Cup in Cremona in northern Italy.
July 2012: Bishop goes Dutch again
While the big stars of British triathlon are staying in Blighty as they make their final preparations for the London Olympics, Bishop – still two days shy of his 21st birthday – returns to Holten where he pockets a silver in the ITU Premium European Cup.
May 2016: Bishop shows himself to be a true team player
Bishop experiences his first taste of success as a mixed relay racer, joining up with Lucy Hall, India Lee and Grant Sheldon to win gold at the ETU European Championships in Lisbon.
March 2017: World champions trail in Bishop’s wake
Bishop enjoys the highest-profile performance of his career so far when he takes silver in the WTS race in Abu Dhabi. It’s a tremendous performance as the Derby-born athlete matches the great Javier Gómez stride for stride on the run until the Spaniard pulls away in the final couple of kilometres and takes the win 13 seconds clear.
But Bishop takes some notable scalps, including future world champ Vincent Luis and defending champ Mario Mola.
June 2018: Another mixed-relay medal, this time on home territory
More success as part of a collective comes in Bishop’s native East Midlands when the British mixed relay foursome earn silver at the ITU event in Nottingham.
Bishop isn’t overawed by the occasion, despite taking his place in the quartet alongside proven world-beaters Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Jonny Brownlee.
June 2021: Goes all out for Olympic qualification
With two male slots already guaranteed, Bishop represents Team GB’s last chance at qualifying a third by rising up the rankings. In a bold attempt to claim it, he aims for five races in five weeks in five different countries.
But it wasn’t to be. Bishop didn’t quite reach the level he’d wanted to and a mix of jet lag and physical and mental fatigue took its toll. He finished 22nd in Yokohama, tactically withdrew from the Lisbon World Cup mid-race, took 40th in at the Arzachena World Cup and 16th in Leeds.
It was a brave effort, but qualification remained out of reach.
Tom Bishop quotes
On the advent of mixed relay events: “The relay has been such a fantastic addition to our sport. Its addition into the Olympic Games opens up so many more opportunities for people and nations to compete on a world stage. As of yet, though, it’s not possible to be a full-time relay athlete and also pay the bills…”
On missing out on Tokyo: “Giving up on the Olympic dream was hard. Maybe a smarter racing strategy would have yielded better results, but nothing was certain. And when my confidence started to go, there was no chance of success.”
On motivation for those who seldom climb the podium: “The media prefers success stories. But I can guarantee you there is as much hard work and sacrifice going on further down the ranking as to those at the very top. The difference is that we don’t have the highs and jubilation to keep us going.”
What’s next for Tom Bishop?
Long-distance racing is in the middle distance for Bishop. Higher up the agenda is a determination to finally realise that potential and make a deeper impression on the WTS series by adding to that sole podium finish from back in 2017.
Top image credit: British Triathlon