Alex Hemsley Athlete Ambassador
Alex took the leap into the world of triathlon following a health scare and hasn't looked back since. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
I’ve competed in sport from a young age. I initially started with swimming, starting lessons at the tender age of 2! At school, I competed in anything and everything; football, cricket, athletics, cross county to name a few but my main loves were swimming and netball. I unfortunately stopped swimming due to a knee injury; 100m breaststroke was my discipline, but I played netball at a high level until my early 20s.
How did you first get into triathlon?
In my late 20s I was diagnosed with borderline cervical cancer cells from a routine smear test and needed treatment for this following which I had complications. I’d always fancied giving triathlon a go as I loved swimming and have always run so this gave me the kick I needed to give it a go. After surgery I wasn’t allowed to do anything for 6 weeks. First thing I did when I was allowed to exercise again was go join a local triathlon club and I’ve never looked back since.
What’s been your best race to date?
Has to be hands down my 2nd place in the aquathlon World Championships in Pontevedra this year.
And your proudest achievement?
Standing on the podium with my GB kit on and the GB flag around me getting that silver medal was priceless.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Not triathlon but the Great North Run last year: I went into it not trained for that distance and I was used to running after being hydrated on the bike. It was a really hot day and I just burnt out at mile 9. I managed to drag myself round to complete in 1:37 but it was a huge disappointment for me. Also, as soon as I crossed the line I passed out and had to be treated in the medical tent. Not my finest hour!
How do you overcome setbacks?
Take a break and refocus on what I want to achieve and then get straight back to it with my training plan and follow it remembering my coaches know best!
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
If you're tired, rest. I’ve learned to listen to my body and rather than force myself to train when I’m tired or under the weather I know to take the rest and know I will train better for it. And don’t try to be good at everything; you can’t train for a sprint at the same time as a half Ironman!
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
2019 has mainly been about aquathlon as I’ve done so well in my recent races. In 2020 I have a pre-qualifier for the aquathlon World Championships so that will be a big focus. I’d also like to get back out on the bike and do some more sprint triathlons and possibly also get back to the longer races as last year I knocked 20 minutes off my half Ironman time!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Lucy Charles has to be a big idol of mine having also started out as a swimmer and recently getting the fastest Ironman swim time ever! I’m in awe of her!