Nikki Bartlett is a professional triathlete who has completed several gruelling Ironman challenges. She talks to Sundried about life as a pro athlete and some of her best races.
Have you always been into sport?
Since I can remember, I’ve always been sports mad! Never specifically in one sport, but I loved getting involved mainly in team sports and then athletics. When I went to the University of Birmingham, I never imagined this would plant the seed to be a full-time athlete.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a triathlete.
I went to University in 2005 and graduated with a first class honours degree in Sport and Physical Education in 2008. Through my time at University, I started rowing (I was new to the sport in my first year) and never looked back. We had a very successful squad, which went onto win medals at the European University Championships. It was here I got my first taste of elite sport and I wanted more!
In 2008 I tested at the Girls for Gold initiative, which was searching for future Olympians. Here I made the rowing and cycling qualification. I followed my love for the sport and went onto rowing in the World Class Start Rowing System. It was a fantastic experience, but I repeatedly became injured with rib stress fractures. It was an extremely tough time, but, through injury, I eventually fell into triathlon. I can remember my friend telling me she had competed in a half Ironman (70.3) race and I thought she was mad.
In 2010/2011, my friend and I decided to do a 70.3 and full Ironman distance triathlon for charity. I got the bug straight away. In 2012 I sat down with my rowing coach and we agreed that perhaps I should move on from the sport into one which I absolutely loved and wanted to explore more of.
In 2012-2014 I competed competitively as an Age Grouper, and after coming 2nd overall (as an age grouper) at Ironman UK Wimbleball (when it was also a Pro race), and coming 1st Age Grouper overall at the European Championships, I decided to make the move into the Pro world.
What are your goals for the next year?
2016 has been a fantastic year. Now coached by Rob Cheetham, I have improved massively from my first year as a Pro in 2015. My results so far for 2016:
1st female at the Scottish Duathlon Championships
3rd Pro at IRONMAN 70.3 France - Pays d’Aix
5th Pro at IRONMAN 70.3 Barcelona
3rd Pro at IRONMAN Staffordshire 70.3 (17mins faster than the previous year, on the same course!)
I’m hoping this will qualify me for the World Ironman 70.3 Championships in September.
What do you love about triathlon?
I absolutely love the sport! I love the new people you meet and how it brings together family and friends. On the competitive side, I love to see how far I can push my body and to test my boundaries. I’m looking forward to what the future holds.