Oliver took up triathlon at university and is now the 25-29 Age Group World Champion. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Ever since I can remember I have been sporty. Growing up I could not decide what I enjoyed nor what I wanted to stick at but I have competed at a high level in a range of sports from football to swimming and badminton to cross country. More recently, I have found myself in sports which get me up early in the morning. Whilst at university I rowed for 2 years and then took up triathlon.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I initially took up triathlon as the training was a good match with my other time commitments at university. I was able to pick and choose which of the three sports I wanted to do and when – this is the beauty of triathlon! Aside from this, I knew that I had a good chance of doing okay as I could already swim and run so I just needed to learn to ride a bike.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race, and the one that I will always remember, was last year (2018) in Tartu, Estonia. It was the European Age Group championships and I had pre-qualified from the same race a year earlier. My then girlfriend (now fiancée) was there with me and my family, who at the time were going on holiday, were watching on their phones at the airport.
This race was very special because as soon as I left transition onto the bike course I took the lead and from this point on, the lead camera bike was with me for the entire race. I had never experienced that sort of thing before, but I loved it. There was a fantastic live stream which was great for my family to watch and it meant that Kathryn (my fiancée) could watch me on the big screen in the race village. Leaving transition 2 onto the run course I heard the commentator calling my name confirming I was in the lead. For the entire run I was so excited that I might win as, although I'd hoped for a podium finish, I didn't think I would win! My best memory, however, is definitely running down the blue carpet and taking the tape on the finishing line.
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was winning the World Championships in Lausanne 2019. I trained so hard specifically for that race and I'm so happy that I was able to hold my nerve and pull it off on the day.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I was racing at Woking triathlon earlier this year. It was my first race of the season and so my pre-race preparations were all a bit shaky. I always worry that my kit is not in the right pace and I'll turn up to one of my transitions to no bike or no shoes!
I ran out of the swim and in the rush forgot to put my helmet on before I grabbed my bike (penalty...). I really pushed the bike course to make up some time and came into transition 2 in a good position ahead of the rest of the field. It was a cold day so by this point I could not feel my feet. I tried to put my trainers on to go running and my foot just would not go in. This was quite embarrassing as everyone was watching and I was the only one in transition... I tried, for what felt like 5 minutes, to get my trainer on before I tipped it upside down and my inhaler fell out. I heard a cheer and have never ran out of a transition so fast!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I think just staying focused on the target is key. My warm up race to the Europeans was a wave start sprint triathlon. When I crossed the finish line I had been beaten by another competitor by just 1 second. This was very frustrating but was great fuel to burn in my main race two weeks later.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
I don't think that I would change anything. I started out in triathlon to enjoy it and used the training mainly to socialise. Although this is still true I am now training to improve my performance at races. I think that getting to know and enjoy the sport before going all in was what got me addicted.
What are your goals for 2020?
My focus for 2020 is already on the European and World Championships where I will go and attempt to retain both titles. This will be my main focus over the winter. However, I would also like to race some of the elite series as I have never raced in a draft legal event before so it would be great to see what I can do.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my family and friends. My family have always been extremely supportive and I can't thank them enough for what the have done for me. I always know that come rain or shine I will have support out on the course and I was so happy to win the European and World Championships for them this year.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
What I like most about the Sundried brand is the sustainability. I work in renewable energies and am a strong advocate for a renewable and sustainable future. Making sports gear from plastic bottles and coffee is a great step forward! Sundried cycling kit is awesome, it looks great and its so comfy!