We caught up with Stuart Hayes at the GB Preparation Camp in Loughborough, the first, and last, chance to see the team together before the Games. Here’s what he had to say about his new life as an Olympian-in-waiting…
You’re not called Brownlee…
I know, I’m the third Brownlee. It’s on Twitter actually – I’m not that one, though!
But I’ve been selected to be part of the team and I’m just there to do what I can. And we’re off to St Moritz in two weeks’ time so I’m just going to train hard and put my head down.
Predominantly bike training in St Moritz, will that be the focus?
Yeah bike training, swim training and run training. I’m just going to be working on all three. I mean training with Alistair and Jonny, it really brings you on. Cause they’re number one and two in the world it makes you realize how hard they actually train and why they are the best. And this is hopefully going to bring me on hopefully for the race day.
I went up to Leeds last week, training in the Dales, and it’s really hard, really tough terrain. I can see why they’re the best in the world and they literally don’t stop. They just keep going and going and going and I’ve realized that’s what I need to do now, and I’m really putting my head down.
Is it your time now?
Yeah I feel it’s my time. I feel I can do well. That I can race alongside the Brownlees and help support them as much as I can, in training and in racing.
You’ve come close to quitting in the past, due to various injuries. What/who inspired you to continue?
My wife [and coach] Michelle. She had double fusion of the spine, so she had a back operation. She says ‘no retreat, no surrender, keep pushing, keep trying your best and things happen’.
It really helps because Michelle is a very good motivator. It’s not about always training hard it’s about having someone positive around you and someone that picks you up when you’re down. Cause athletes get big highs and big lows so you need someone behind you to pick you up when things aren’t going so well.
Our relationship works really well because she understands that I have to go to bed early sometimes. Some couples like to socialize at the weekend and we stay away from that cause you’ve got to always maximise performance.
Since I’ve been selected my injuries have all healed up and I’m raring to go. I had a bit of a knee injury last season.
As our most successful Olympian to date, what advice has Michelle passed on to you?
Just try not to get too nervous, try to keep things the same, don’t overtrain. Just trying to improve slowly.
I don’t feel any pressure cause I’ve been to the Olympics before as a reserve and you realize it’s just another event with more media and more spectators. I’m not going to be particularly nervous.
There’s been a lot of talk about you playing the domestique role.
We haven’t actually discussed about the domestique role as yet, we haven’t actually sat down and spoken about it. We just have to see what happens in St Moritz, if we decide to use it or we don’t decide to use it.
Is it beyond the realms of fantasy that we could go one, two, three at the Olympics?
Honestly, training with these two guys anything can happen. They give out such good energy and a feel good factor about wanting to train. I’ve never felt this… I feel like I’m a kid again, just doing triathlon for the first time. I’m 33-years-old, so I’m coming towards the end of my ITU career and when you get towards the end, you get a bit stale. But hanging around those two, I feel like I’m 20 again!
People say I’ve been picked for a domestique role, but I have actually won a race before, on the bike, and I have got away in a lot of races on my own and stayed away from the field. So we’re playing all angles.