The favourite for the final Olympic Team GB men’s spot speaks to 220 about his absence from the team…
220: How’s today [the Holiday Inn Loughborough training day at which Will was coaching] been?
Will Clarke: It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed doing a bit of coaching with lots of enthusiastic people and I’m looking forward to seeing how they all do at London. They’ve all been really enthusiastic, and it’s been great watching them. Hopefully they’ll all get results in London that they can be proud of.
How’s it been for you over the last few months? How have you coped with the Olympic selection process?
It’s been hell, to be honest, because it’s been… it takes so much energy and so much stress and it completely consumes your thoughts. And at the same time I think it’s just a crazy hard selection policy – you know, they wanted two podiums in the first three races of the year and bearing in mind that’s three races in three continents. And they kept on moving the goalposts as to when they were gonna select the team and stuff and what it’s going to take to get in. Because it’s so discretionary it was really testing… and just a really uncertain time, really testing and really tough not knowing what’s going on.
What’s your view on having the third person as a domestique in tri?
In cycling it’s a whole team of you, five or six guys, so in triathlon it’s not going to work anywhere near as well as in cycling. Someone popping up at the last minute and getting selected for the Olympics is morally wrong. The guys who have been the best for the past four years are the people that should be in contention. A discretionary domestique selection is tough for aspiring Olympic athletes who want to get on the team.
For the Madrid race, with it having a very different course profile to London did you feel it was a bit of an odd choice for the vital selection race? Or was it a good choice?
By then no one had got a podium so I think there wasn’t ever going to be an athlete – whatever anyone did in Madrid, I think the selectors’ minds had already been made up that they wanted to take someone as a domestique.
In terms of a test for a domestique I thought it was great because it’s a fast swim course and the bike is straight up a hill, so you can show what you can do on a bike, and how strong you are, and what power you can produce. But in terms of showing form for London, which is an easier swim and a pancake flat, easy bike course, it’s not much use.
So for London, who would you say are the favourites?
If both Brownlees turn up fit, then they’re going to be a real struggle to get them off first and second position. But my favourite for the games is Stefan Justus, the German athlete. He’s got a lot of talent – his dad went to the Olympics for 1,500m – but I’ve got a good feeling about him and I think he’s talented enough to come up with a seriously good result. Other than that, I think the French and the Spanish – Javier Gomez and Mario Mola – are the key guys, for me.
You’ve mentioned, for the future, an interest in Ironman, is that something you’re still thinking about?
Absolutely. I’m looking to race in America for the rest of the year and establish myself in Ironman or start the process of building up towards that by doing some non-drafting races. I think I’m actually most talented on the bike, out of all three sports, so I’m hoping that with a bit of preparation and a winter’s training focusing on that sort of racing I can start to come up with some really good results. But, at the same time, if I don’t particularly like it – I do still want to race ITU and keep my options open for opportunities. But definitely I’m looking at going to Des Moines or Vegas 70.3 at the moment.
Have you got any plans for the Olympics?
I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in the swimming, and I’m also looking forward to seeing the athletics and seeing what the boys can do on the track. It’s going to leave a bit of a hole, not being qualified obviously, and I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about the Olympics over the next few weeks. But right now it’s pretty bitter and I’m quite disappointed. But I wish all the guys racing for GB the best of luck. We’ve got an incredible team and I think we’re going to come away with awesome performances and a great show.
For more information on the Virgin Active London Triathlon head to www.thelondontriathlon.co.uk.
Photo credit: Delly Carr/ITU