The race may not have gone to plan for our GB ladies, but hell, we got a fifth place! The best yet for a GB lady. And, as it transpires, Helen was carrying a pretty bad injury, so much so that she didn’t feel a thing in the race as she had “too many painkillers inside me!”
Regardless, our Brit ladies headed through transition a little teary eyed and downbeat. A few minutes with the press though, and – we like to think – they were feeling a little more elated. First up, Vix, who took a tumble on that first lap of the bike:
“I was off the front a little bit on the first lap, but then Emma Moffat came down, she just totally slipped out in front of me, I just managed to avoid her. Something took me out from behind. I don’t think I slipped, I think someone clipped my back wheel. So I hit the deck pretty hard. I got up again quite quickly, but I couldn’t quite get onto the pack. From that point onwards it was a case of damage limitation for me. And try not to drag anyone up to the front group, to Helen.
“Obviously we were here as a team and I didn’t want to jeopardise Helen’s run chances by bringing up any of the strong runners who were in my group, like Riveros Diaz and Charayon. It was just a case of sitting in and waiting for the run.”
The one discipline she hadn’t been training for.
“Yeah, I haven’t been doing a lot of run training. My focus here was swim and bike, and to try and put Helen in contention. I actually ran a lot quicker than I thought would do. But that wasn’t what I was here to do on the day and I’m just sorry that I couldn’t contribute more to Helen than I actually did. First lap on the bike isn’t a good time to come down. We’re really proud of what Helen did and we’re just sorry that we couldn’t put her in a better position going into the run.
Over to Lucy Hall, who on debut in the Olympics led the field out of the swim and found herself in the lead pack on the bike. Even when the two groups joined, Lucy could be seen regularly controlling the pace out front. But it’s the swim that Hall is downbeat about.
“In hindsight I probably should have sighted a bit better to see where Helen and Vicky were,” admitted Hall. “I feel really upset for Helen. Cause I know how hard she’s worked over the last few years and I just really wanted to help her to get it.
“[But] I kind of assumed Helen and Vicky were there. We were spreading out the field, I thought, ‘yeah they’ll be in there, don’t worry, don’t worry. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ Then on the bike, I just had to sit in, I couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t the A plan, but the race wasn’t over either.
So talk us through the A-plan…
Vicky: “It wasn’t really anything too tricky. It was basically swim really hard, get as few people with us as possible, bike really hard, have as few contenders for Helen as possible left and then hope that on the run that we could let her fly a little bit!
“We got in mind about 8-10 girls who could make it if we really drilled the swim, if me and Helen managed to get with Lucy’s pace. And a lot of those girls would have been willing to work on the bike as well knowing that that would be their best chance of a medal.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan. Me and Helen ended up swimming together and were really in the mash of that front group. It was a lot more girls closer together than we’d anticipated. I think that’s what happens with a wetsuit swim. But it’s the same for everyone, you just get on with it.”
“We’ve worked on it [the plan] quite a few times, me and Helen have come out of the water and got something going,” adds Hall. “It’s just not happened on the day. Sometimes sport just doesn’t go the way you want it to.”
And what about that 10k, as running isn’t your strength, Lucy?
“My 10k was absolutely epic, it was horrible! I was just thinking just get round, don’t start crawling! We did what we could, I’m really happy to finish my first Olympic Games in London.”
Their plan may have not worked, but then Helen was carrying a pretty bad injury; which has curtailed her training over the last two months and which only came to light today.
“I picked up an injury just after San Diego,” says Helen. “I dealt with it as best I could, and I have an amazing team. But I didn’t prepare as well as I would have liked. It wasn’t perfect and it’s been a fight to get here. I’ve been training in pain for about 10 weeks now. So it’ll be nice to have a break now and let it heal.”
That must have been tough psychologically to deal with.
“I’ve tried not to think about it. You’ve got to be as strong as possible. You really have to be positive and focus, and I tried to use the crowd today as well to really get me going. It definitely allowed me to really push as hard as I could.”
So you must have been unsure of your form coming into the race?
“Yeah I wasn’t sure at all. I was in a great position until about 8k and then my legs came off a bit there. But the crowd is amazing. They really pushed me. And I got everything out of myself today.”
And what about your co stars?
“I’m so grateful to Helen and Vicky. They put me in the right position, they delivered me to the right place, but I just didn’t have the legs for that last lap. The girls that got the medals really deserved them, it was hard fought. And I don’t want this to detract from what they’ve achieved today. They really worked for this. I’m really proud of all them.
Absolutely. And there’s the Commonwealth’s as well . I love triathlon, I absolutely love it. This inspires me. You learn more from the setbacks. And this has been one of the biggest setbacks. But when are you going to get in front of a home crowd like this? I’ve never heard like noise like that in a race
Helen leaves to continue interviews, which leaves us with one final question for the girls. How do you think it’ll play out on Tuesday?
Lucy: “I think they’ll [Alistair and Jonny Brownlee] smash it! They’ve been so dominant in the world championships. And I know Stuart’s [Hayes] been working so hard in training.”
Vicky: “I don’t want to jinx it! Everything that we didn’t want to happen today happened. Puncture, injury, crash, wetsuit swim… Hopefully the boys will get the luck we didn’t.”
So no medal today but if the boys are on form, and there are no hidden injuries to curtail their plans, it could, and should, be a double medal day. Roll on Tuesday.