How was Rio?
Rio was pretty good! I guess you could say I came back with what I went for, and I couldn’t really ask for too much more. I have been infatuated with sport and the Olympics since I was six years old and I remember watching Barcelona Olympics and being awestruck by Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell, and Chris Boardman. I remember watching them win medals and wanting a piece of that for myself.
So to make it to the Games 24 years later and bring back a medal myself has been a lifelong dream, and I can’t be disappointed with a bronze, I am really delighted.
The atmosphere was really good. There was a lot of negativity about low ticket sales and unfortunately the stadiums were not full, but we were really lucky and were really well supported. There were free-to-view sections of the course, which is a brilliant part of triathlon and I hope that continues for forever at big events, and they did a good job of supporting us. Rio was pretty special.
Are you thinking about Tokyo?
I am and I am not. I am trying to enjoy this moment. I am 30 now and will be 34 in Tokyo and I think Nicola Spirig is 34 so it’s definitely not an impossibility, but four years seems a long time. I am going to take it as it comes and not rule anything out. You might see me there, or see me trying to make it, but I can’t guarantee anything.
How did you get involved in triathlon?
I have been a swimmer since I was six years old, and started running when I was 11, and by the time I went to university I was doing both at quite a high national standard.
I was 19 when I did my first triathlon and what really appealed to me the most was that I didn’t have to quit one sport for another, and this was a way of keeping hold of my two loves and trying something new. As soon as I started I loved the variety and that here is always something new to do or something different to focus on. If you are not enjoying the swim for a bit there is the cycling – there’s always something positive and I love the lifestyle of being triathlete.
When I started to race triathlon I had to explain what a triathlon was, whereas now people talk to me about it, they know what it is and have often done one or know someone that has done one. They ask all about Alistair and Jonny [Brownlee] and that’s testament to the Olympics, and what happened in London.
How would you recommend people get involved in the sport?
The first thing is to break it down and try doing the different sports to start with, and train with people to make it enjoyable. Find friends and find training groups, so it is a social event as well as a training event.
Your Go Tri is a fantastic initiative from British Triathlon that is all about encouraging people to get involved in triathlon and increase participation, without people feeling they have to do a full Olympic distance triathlon, as for a lot of people that can be quite daunting and feel a crazy thing to start with. It’s all about customising your own version and doing the sports on different days and making it more accessible to people.
Triathlon is a sport for everyone, and we want to show it’s not reserved for certain ages, abilities or classes.
What about triathlon kit, do people need the latest gear?
People think they have to have the most expensive bike out there but you really don’t have to. Until you get to the top levels of the sport having all the expensive gear will make the minimal difference to your performance, so you don’t need worry about having the £5,000 carbon bike. The bike out of the shed will be fine, or there are often hire bikes available, and the same goes for wetsuits. You don’t have to spend your hard earned pennies on gear straight away, and borrow things where possible.
What has the sport given you?
I feel so blessed to have met the people I have and I could never thank the sport enough for what it has given me in my life, and not just the bronze medal.