Can the double Olympic medallist make it three in a row? It’s going to be his “toughest yet, but anything can happen in the Olympics”…
So how’ve you been spending your off-season?
I’m a family man now so every spare second I have is focused towards my family. We just had a little baby boy, Fletcher Docherty, just before Christmas so he’s keeping us very busy. However, I have a great support crew around me, which means I still get the time for training and recovery. Always be nice to your family, you never know when you’ll need them!
Got a game plan for 2012?
My game plan is to train hard and race harder! I’m going to base myself out of Santa Cruz, California, where we live. Unfortunately there is a real lack of quality ITU races here in the US, so I’m going to have to mix up my draft-legal races with some non-drafting races. It sucks that all the quality drafting races are in Europe and unfortunately the older I get the worse my jet lag is getting, so I limit my travel to Europe to a minimum.
Since Beijing, how, if at all, do you think the sport has changed?
The sport has changed so much over the last few years, mostly due to a few key athletes like Javier and the Brownlee Brothers; they bring a new level of racing which requires you to be on your game from the gun! In the past the races were quite static on the bike with everyone looking at each other waiting for something to happen and the run was either on or off. Now you have to be giving it 100% all the time. I prefer this style of racing, I’ve just got to find the right form to be competitive!
How do you think you’ve changed since the last Olympics?
I think I’ve still improved as an athlete since the last Olympics, and my training times have certainly shown that, but the older I get the harder it is to get to that peak and to then stay at that peak for an extended period of time. Saying that, with age comes wisdom, I’ve learnt so much from my last two Olympic campaigns so that’s one thing I have up on those younger athletes.
Your results since Beijing have been a mixed bag, to say the least. How would you sum up the last four years?
Exactly that, just a mixed bag! I’ve had some great races, but mostly crap races! I hate racing bad, just search ‘Bevan has a Tanty’ on YouTube. Most of my issues have been trying to keep up with the sport by pushing the limits and maybe going a little too far. This old body can’t take the extended punishment I used to give it – just as well the Olympic triathlon is a one-off race!
You ended 2011 on a high with silver in Auckland, but seem to have struggled on the WCS circuit last season. Why do you think that was?
My pedigree is tough all-round courses, like Athens and the new course I helped design in Auckland. Most of the WCS races are on flat, boring courses, which I’m not suited to. But if you get me on ‘my day’, on one of these courses, I can hold my own. I’ve just got to find that form.
Are you confident that you can still pull out a medal-winning performance when it really counts?
The Olympics has always bought out the best in me, and I’m sure I can rise to the occasion again. There’s so much that goes into an Olympic campaign; there’s the qualifying, build-up and finally the race, you need everything to go right in all of those just to be in with a chance of a medal. A lot of hard work and a bit of luck. This is going to be the hardest of all three Olympic campaigns, but I have great support and no excuses.
The Brownlees are unsurprisingly getting a lot of attention in the London build-up. Are you the man to spoil their day come 7 August? How do envisage breaking their two-man game plan, which in 2011 proved almost unbeatable?
The Brownlees are going to be tough to beat, especially on home turf. Anything can happen in the Olympics, and if one thing goes wrong there’s always someone there to capitalise on it. However, because there’s two of them, it’s probably going to be another Brownlee that capitalises! I guess their disadvantage is that they’re expected to do well, they will be expected to cover all the breaks while others will be sitting back. Other athletes will have to team up in order to rattle this duo, constantly putting them under pressure. It will be interesting to see who gets the third spot for GB and what role they will have to play for their team.
We’ve read how you found it hard financially to establish yourself as a pro when you first moved to Europe. Has the process improved for the next generation of triathletes coming through, do you think? Is there more support available? Or is it still just as tough?
Certainly for New Zealand there is more funding available – it’s amazing what three Olympic medals can bring to a sport for a small nation! I have mixed feelings as to whether this extra funding is a good thing or not, though. I really feel those years of trying to make ends meet really defined me as an athlete and brought out a true desire to be the best I could be. On the other hand there were times I was so close to packing it in and getting ‘a real job’ because times were so tough. There’s good and bad in every system, but at the end the cream will always rise to the top.
PHOTO CREDIT: Delly Carr/ITU