British Championships and Super League Jersey
Having suffered the disappointment of not being selected for the Junior World Championships, I was really struggling for motivation in late August and early September and so I decided to take a short break of a few days off training in an attempt to allow my batteries to recharge. The rest did me some good, and allowed me mentally and physically to recover, and I began to notice my enthusiasm return. I soon began to look forward to and focus on the final race of the British Series, the British Triathlon Big Weekend and British Senior and Junior Championships. I had already taken two wins in the series so far, at Performance Assessments and at Eton Dorney, and with 3 performances counting towards the final series result, I was positioned very well with a chance of taking the overall win. I put this out of my mind, however, and focused entirely on the task at hand. The bike was extremely technical, with over 10 turns per lap and 6 laps, and positioning would therefore be key. This meant a good swim was essential. To the first buoy on the swim, it was a melee (as can be expected in these sorts of races) but I managed to find some space ahead of the worst part and reached the first turn neck and neck with another athlete at the front of the race. I settled onto his feet, and maintained and defended this position well throughout the swim. A small mistake at the very last turn buoy, however meant I exited the water 4th instead of second, but this was not a huge disaster, and a very swift T1 thanks to the excellent Yonda Ghost wetsuit meant I began the bike leg with the leading group of 4 athletes and we soon began to establish our lead. As the bike leg progressed, a chasing group of 4 worked very hard behind, and began to catch us. By the halfway point on the bike, the groups had coalesced into an 8, and I knew that this would therefore make positioning absolutely critical, as being at the back of this 8 would exert huge pressure out the corners and make it very difficult to stay in contact. I therefore made a strong effort to move up to second in the group and worked hard out of the corners to put this pressure on the athletes at the back. This tactic paid off very well, meaning that the group split in half again, with a combination of four (slightly different) athletes once again leading the bike course.
We came into T2 with a sizeable lead this time, and an average transition left me with a little catching up to do. I quickly moved up into second, and with an Australian athlete out in front, this meant I was in a British Championship winning position, however my excitement soon faded as I realised my back issues I had experienced in May had returned again. I focused on keeping the pain at bay, but began to struggle badly, and, once I had reached the point where I was reduced to hobbling to make forward progress, I decided to end my race and prevent doing further damage. I was hugely disappointed once more, especially as this had rendered me unable to race in the Mixed Relay cup the next day, as well as missing out on my chance to win the British Junior Super Series.
A second disappointing result meant I once again was struggling for motivation, and so I decided to spend my planned family holiday relaxing and surfing instead of training as I had originally planned. This would mean I would not be in my best shape for Super League Jersey, which would be my last race of the season, but not being a major goal, this was not a huge issue, and would instead be a bit of fun and allow me to get straight into winter work after this last race.
Due to colder weather than expected, the planned format of swim/bike/run/swim/bike/run was changed to swim/bike/run/bike/run, as the organisers believed the water was too cold to re-enter during the race. I had a good start, and reached the first buoy in second, but I was pulled back by the shoulder by another athlete and got swamped, leaving me in around 8th. I was forced to swim hard around the outside to try and move up towards the front again, and came out fourth. Another slick T1 saw me exit in second, and the hugely technical bike course made changing positions difficult, and so I remained in second until the end of the very short first bike. T2 was excellent, and put me at the front of the race, however, with half of the first run complete I began to notice the fitness I had lost from my holiday begin to kick in, and slipped down into 6th place. Going back onto the bike was a strange feeling, but I was confident in my technical ability, and knew I would have to use the corners to reel in the front of the race. The course was wet and very treacherous, and many athletes had already crashed, and round a particularly sloppy corner, my wheels just slipped out, and I fell hard and slid on the tarmac. I got straight back on my bike (after fixing my bent handlebars) and began chasing again, albeit a little more slowly round the corners. I was much further down than I would’ve wanted by this point, and going onto the final run, I managed to pick off a couple more athletes, finishing in 9th, and first British athlete. I was a little disappointed, but given I was not in top form and I crashed, my performance was not too displeasing, and was certainly more satisfactory than the last two hugely disappointing races.
This final race marks the end of the 2019 season. The season overall was very mixed, with disappointing results or DNFs at the races I cared about most, but with very positive progression being shown at other races. Of course these disappointments will only serve to fuel the fire over the winter, and hopefully will make me stronger in the long term. I have certainly learnt a lot from them already. I am now hugely excited for the winter ahead, which will be my first where I am able to train full time, without A-Levels or GCSEs to focus on as well. I am confident that I will continue to improve one step at a time, and that next year will bring new opportunities, with the incredible support of my sponsors Pedal Potential and Yonda.
Thanks for reading,