UP TO SPEED

As the months of spec­u­la­tion fi­nally end, we re­veal who is off to Rio and how con­fi­dent they feel about bring­ing back a medal…

Triathlon Plus - - Contents -

We take a look at all the news and moves in the triathlon world.

AF­TER MONTHS of spec­u­la­tion and won­der, the day of reck­on­ing fi­nally dawned.

Out­side Leeds Civic Hall, the most fa­mous faces in triathlon gazed down on us from gi­ant posters.

In­side the op­u­lent build­ing, six empty stools had been ar­ranged be­fore a dra­matic back­drop of Copaca­bana Beach.

In a few mo­ments they’d be filled with our Olympic hope­fuls. But, with all eyes fo­cused on the sixth seat, there was just one ques­tion on ev­ery­one’s lips.

Who had made the fi­nal slot on the men’s team? Would it be Gor­don Ben­son or Tom Bishop hope­fully steer­ing the Brown­lee broth­ers to glory on the Brazil­ian podium?

One by one, each ath­lete was in­tro­duced – and came for­ward to re­ceive their for­mal se­lec­tion no­tice from the Bri­tish Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion to join Team GB in Brazil.

There were no sur­prises from the girls. Non Stan­ford was fol­lowed by house­mate and good friend Vicky Hol­land – who both earned their places on podi­ums at the Rio test event and the World Se­ries grand fi­nal.

Then came He­len Jenk­ins… the only ath­lete to have beaten Gwen Jor­gensen in the last 12 months, earn­ing a ticket to her third Olympics with a dra­matic Gold Coast vic­tory this spring.

Mov­ing on to the men’s team, we had Jonathan – then Alis­tair – Brown­lee.

“And, to com­plete the team…” an­nounced John Le­vi­son from Tri247.com. Si­lence fell.

“He was Euro­pean un­der-23 cham­pion in 2014, went on to win a bronze medal at the world cham­pi­onships the same year… last year pro­duced one of the best team per­for­mances I’ve ever seen in Baku.”

“The third mem­ber of the men’s GB triathlon team for Rio… Gor­don Ben­son!”

The spec­u­la­tion was over. Gor­don had clinched it.

But even he had been on ten­ter­hooks, he re­vealed. Af­ter days of wait­ing for news, while com­plet­ing his fi­nal uni­ver­sity ex­ams, an email had fi­nally popped into his inbox at 5pm on a Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“It was a big re­lief to get the email,” he said. “I felt like I ticked a box in Yoko­hama. I would have been dis­ap­pointed not to have been picked… I’m re­ally happy now.”

Af­ter­wards he told us: “I rang my Mum. I’m pretty sure she cried.”

And his thoughts on Tom? “For us, it was al­ways go­ing to be one or the other. It was go­ing to be a shame for the one who missed out. If Tom did well and he got the nod I’d be dis­ap­pointed for my­self but not for Tom. We’re go­ing there to do the best role we can do. At the end of the day, from what hap­pened in the races, Bri­tish Triathlon se­lected me and I’m grate­ful for their belief in me. I wish Tom all the best. He’ll con­tinue his train­ing in Leeds and it’s good to have him around.”

So no hard feel­ings? “I don’t think so. We al­ways knew what the deal was and we were both happy to take the risk. It does de­velop you well as an ath­lete to fo­cus on your swim/bike. I said ‘if I’m un­suc­cess­ful, I’ll be a bet­ter swim/biker, get back to my run­ning and prob­a­bly be in peak run­ning shape in six to eight weeks. I’ll just be a more rounded ath­lete – hope­fully I’ll be swim­ming front pack in the race, stronger on the bike, and if I’m back in my top run shape, I’ll be able to de­liver top races.

“It was a great op­por­tu­nity for both of us to go for it. But sadly there was only one spot.”

Gor­don, still just 22, hopes it’s just the first of many Olympics. “This time around it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for me to go to ex­pe­ri­ence the Olympics. From Tokyo we’ll see what hap­pens.

“I’ll be 26. Peo­ple say triath­letes peak around 27/28. I’ll peak when I peak but I’d love to be there at Tokyo. For the one af­ter that I’ll only be 30 and would love to be there.

“So, yeah, let’s hope this is the flood­gates open­ing to Olympics af­ter Olympics. I’d love to do it. But for now, it’s just short­term… go to Rio and do the job.”

Af­ter un­veil­ing the team Le­vi­son con­cluded: “So that’s our Bri­tish Olympic Team – and what a very strong one it is.”

We couldn’t agree more. Team GB – we’ll be will­ing you on ev­ery stroke, pedal and step of the way.

Triathlon Plus and triradar.com will bring you full cov­er­age of the Olympic races.

SOUND­BITES FROM TEAM GB

Non Stan­ford: “It’s taken me 17/ 18 years since I was nine-years-old and asked my mum if I’d ever go to the Olympic Games. A few sports later (gym, swim, run and fi­nally triathlon) I’ve fi­nally man­aged to do it. It will be pretty spe­cial to fi­nally stand on that start line and rep­re­sent Team GB at the Olympic Games.”

Vicky Hol­land: “The last two years have been re­ally great for me. When I look ahead to Rio I have far loftier am­bi­tions than 26th place [her fin­ish­ing po­si­tion in Lon­don 2012].”

He­len Jenk­ins: “I’m quite sur­prised to be here. It’s been a hard four years since 2012. A Lot of in­juries... but I kept in mind that I wanted to go to Rio. I just man­aged to get the train­ing in and pull off the re­sult in the Gold Coast.”

Alis­tair Brown­lee: “I am quite con­fi­dent. A sec­ond gold medal would be fan­tas­tic – and would mean a lot more in some ways. But you just don’t know… you’ve just got to put your head down for the next two months and go as hard as you can.”

Jonathan Brown­lee: “Rio will be very dif­fer­ent to Lon­don… it’s a dif­fer­ent course, as well, which is go­ing to help. Lon­don was a course that didn’t nec­es­sar­ily suit us that much… a very fast run and fast bike. Rio is a lot tougher … so, yes, I am ex­cited about it.”

The newly re­vealed Team GB

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