Highlights from the men’s Olympic post-race press conference
Press conference highlights from the three Olympic medallists
Jonny, you were taken to the medical tent after the race. What happened?
“I collapsed…but that’s part of triathlon, you know. I worked really hard and it was hot out there. I was taken to the medical tent and covered in ice, given glucose and water, and laid down. But it’s part of the sport, it’s a tough, tough sport. And when I got my penalty I knew it’d be even tougher so, yeah, it was tough.”
How much did you discuss race strategy before the start? And what was that strategy?
Alistair: “Well it’s quite obvious, really, we just wanted to go as hard as we could for all of it. But I couldn’t believe it, coming out of the swim, it was ideal that there was five of us away and we were working really smoothly together.
“Unfortunately the group behind, of about 15 guys, got working really well, obviously, and managed to catch us up. But I think you can do a lot of damage in those first two laps of the bike by making the guys behind you chase, and we took probably four or five decent runners out of the race right there and then because they were a minute behind right to the end of the bike.
“Then when the bike came together we knew there was 20-25km to keep it together in a group – there was only so much damage other people could do by attacking us or whatever. Stu [Hayes] kept the pace really high and covered most attacks, we covered a few attacks, and it generally worked really well. We’ve trained really hard together and talked about what we could do in a race to make it easy and, you know, hopefully to get the best result for Jonny and me. Then the run, you just go as hard as you can!”
Jonny, how did you decide when to serve your penalty?
“Well I was gonna take it on the first lap of the run, the British coaches were saying on the first lap, cause that’s normally when you can hold yourself back a little, you’re not too tired, you haven’t done 7.5km, you’re not going to seize up as much. But we were in a group of three by then, so I thought, ‘There’s no point taking it now, cause I’m being dragged away, it’s perfect’. And then on the second lap we were still in a group of three. So we got to the third lap, and that was the perfect time. You don’t want to take it with 200m to go. It’s the first penalty that I’ve ever had, so it’s all new to me. It was just a bit of a shock, really.”
What were those 15secs like, and how difficult was it getting started again after that?
“I was thinking about it on the way round, how far 15secs is, and it’s about 100m or a bit less than that. It’s a long, long time, and when I started again I tripped. I thought it couldn’t really get much worse! But I don’t think those 15secs changed the race at all. On the third lap I was getting dropped anyway. And then I started to run again and I think it was about 16secs to the French [David Hauss and Laurent Vidal], so that was good, I thought it was gonna be less than that!”
Can you just sum up how you felt when you saw your brother was coming towards the line, securing third?
Alistair: “Well I was pretty confident that he’d get third. Straight from the first lap of the run I was debating with myself various tactics that I could do to give him the best chance of getting a medal. And I decided that, hopefully, if I go out as hard as I can then hopefully he can stick with me and nobody else can. That gives you the best chance. But Javier came along as well!
“I was pretty confident after that third lap that Jonny was going to get third anyway. I was really proud that he managed to pull it off, and especially with a penalty for a silly mistake like it was.”
How does it feel after all the expectation, the world title, the European title, being able to deliver, to produce on the big stage?
Alistair: “Oh, hundreds of emotions. Obviously happy, excited, overwhelmed, but a bit of relief in there as well. Obviously coming into a race as the favourite and in a home Olympics has been tough, and we had a strategy to try and distance ourselves a little bit from the Olympics. But that’s very difficult to do – almost impossible – and we failed in that, massively, watching everything going! But yeah, it was fantastic today, everything went right, really, apart from Jonny’s penalty, and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
With your celebrations, you took a long time to get over the line.
Alistair: “Um, yeah I did. My process of thought wasn’t too clear by then, to be honest, I was pretty excited! I took my time a bit down the finishing straight, but not too much. I really did just want to get it over and done with by that point, I was really tired, I just wanted to sit down!”
Alistair covered the run in 29mins, what was it like trying to keep pace with that, Javier?
“It was a pretty good run, especially the first lap. Alistair was pushing the pace really fast. I knew I had to try to hang on, and I also knew Jonathan had to stop for a penalty, and my strategy was to keep up as much as I can. He kept on pushing but on the last 3km the pace was too high for me. But I’m pleased with my second place cause when someone beats you running 29mins flat after a fast swim and a fast bike, I couldn’t do much more today. I think it was my best race of the year, so it’s good to have it here, and it’s great to have a silver medal.”
Alistair, as mentioned you ran in 29:07, that’s only 1sec behind the second British guy in the 10,000m. Fancy a crack at the 10k at the Commonwealth’s?
“It probably would have been nearly 29 flat if I hadn’t messed around a bit at the finish, so obviously massively proud of that. It’s a big jump to go from running a 29min 10km to a 27:30min 10km. I dunno, who knows, I’m probably not capable of that to be honest.
What are you capable of?
“I’d like to think I could go maybe a bit closer to 28, but who knows on a track. We ran our first lap today in 7mins, which is 28 flat pace, straight off a bike, so I only have to do that four times!”
Is there a desire to try?
“Yeah, possibly. I think I’ll be looking to do some slightly different things over the next couple of years, and we’ve got the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in two years, so who knows? I might have a crack at doing 10km there, it’d be something different and I’d really enjoy doing that.”
Alistar, can you just tell us what you said to Jonny after you crossed the line and during the cycling?
“Um, can’t remember. Probably ‘well done’ or something, ‘you’re amazing’ [Johnny: “‘we’ve done it’ or something”] yeah ‘we’ve done it’. We were pretty tired, so not much. We were both absolutely knackered.
“But on the bike, you couldn’t actually talk that much; we had about a 15sec window as we crossed the bridge up there where the crowd’s roar wasn’t too loud and you could get a few words in. And Jonny said he had a penalty, and I was telling him not to worry, you can still do it, you can still definitely get on the podium easy. And we had a bit of a moment on the last lap and Jonny said we’re just gonna go for it, run like the wind.
“I was thinking of different tactics, to try and give Jonny a gap and run at a certain pace with Javier, but it became very clear after the first lap that he was in great shape and that it was going to be a tough race. For me, [it was to] get gold, or whatever, so I didn’t want to hamper that.”
You mentioned before about penalties ruining the sport, how common are they and can you expand on that point?
Alistair: “They were initially very common, and to be fair one of the benefits is that they have reduced. But for example, you could drop your helmet, like we both have, and it doesn’t fall in your box, and ricochets off the edge, so to get 15sec penalty for that is unfair.
“Jonny’s foot was apparently on the line today, and to get a 15sec penalty for that it just ridiculous. And for me, triathlon is a fantastically pure sport: you start, then the first person across the line finishes, to bring a judge’s decision into a sport like that, for me, almost completely ruins it. I think it’s a big shame, and I don’t think it’s solved the problem, either. There wasn’t a big problem ever with people throwing helmets at each other or jumping on the bike metres before the line, so what’s the point in them?”
What are the worst weather conditions you’ve ever trained in in Yorkshire?
Jonny: “Probably two winters ago, when it snowed a lot. I think we trained in about -15° once. We cycled across a lake, but we didn’t know it was a lake at the time, I slipped and my arm went through and half my body was frozen. I had to ride another two hours home in -15° and the wet. So, it’s not much fun up in Yorkshire sometimes, but it makes you strong and it stops you from training too hard. But also, I hate training in the heat as well, so I’d probably rather it be -15° than 45°.”
Javier, how difficult is it for one man to go against a team in this sport?
“I didn’t think it would be bad for me if there was a small break out of the water and if you have someone helping to push the pace. Obviously you have to be aware of people trying to attack or trying different strategies – it makes you ready for anything. I had a bit of tension on the bike, trying not to make any big mistakes. But then when you go out on the run and the strongest one’s going to be the winner no matter what the tactics. I think it’s pretty fair, what happened out there today. Alistair showed he was the strongest one, with me the second strongest one, so that’s good for the sport.”
The great county of Yorkshire is having a pretty good Summer Olympics, what do you put that down to?
Alistair: “What are we now, eighth, seventh in the medal table apparently? I think a combination of lots of things; I think luck is a big one, having lots of athletes together from Yorkshire at the same time. And it’s probably one of the biggest counties in the UK in terms of population, so if the whole UK is doing well then it’s probably likely that Yorkshire is gonna do well. But there’s a massive sporting heritage in Yorkshire – great swimming clubs, lots and lots of cycling, and just loads of sport. And, of course, it’s like we always say, it’s a fantastic place to be an athlete and do sport, so I think it must be that.”
The sport of triathlon is pretty new in the Olympics and so far only a couple of people have won more than one medal. What do you guys see for your future in the sport?
Javier: “For me it’s a long time and a lot can happen. Obviously right now I would like to be in Rio with medal chances, but you have to keep on working and training hard for that. More new guys can always come up pretty strong, and you don’t know what’s gonna happen. I wanna keep enjoying the sport, and be at the World Series and different kinds of races. Hopefully I’ll still be fit and try to fight for something.”
Alistair: “Yeah, four years is a long time, but it seems absolutely no time since I was in Beijing, and triathlon has a World Series every year so it’s a bit of a conveyor belt. And then the Commonwealth’s in Glasgow in 2014, which is really exciting for triathlon because we have Olympic-distance triathlon and a team relay which Britain – well, England – should be really good at. So that’ll be good. And yeah, I’d love to be in Rio two years after that, I just take every year as it comes and if I’ve still got the ability and passion to train as hard as I can and push myself then I’ll definitely be there.”
Jonny: “Same for me, pretty much. I’m still young, in Rio I’ll be 26, and hopefully I’ll still love the sport and training. I’ve loved the whole Olympic experience so far. The crowd today were incredible, it’s the best triathlon I’ve ever done. So, yeah, definitely, I’d love to be in Rio, but it’s a long, long, time away.”
Alistair: “Can we just have a course with a hill on in Rio, please? If anyone’s listening!”