Simon Ward Team GB Triathlete Sundried

Simon qualified to become part of the Team GB Age Group team in 2016 and went on to qualify for the World Championships in 2017. He talks to Sundried about how he stays motivated and how his late father inspires him.

Have you always been into sport?

I had quite a poor upbringing, and decided to run to school from the age of 7. By the time I reached senior school, I was a fairly handy athlete. I didn't realise until my first cross country run, and they gave me a detention because they thought I had taken a short cut!

What made you decide to enter triathlon?

I had always wanted to do a triathlon, and after a bet I entered the Tatton park triathlon. I entered the freezing lake full of hope, and exited dead last, made up serious ground on the bike and was quickest of the runners. The swim let me down and I have not swam since that day. The decision to be a duathlete was the best thing that ever happened to me.

What’s been your best race to date?

I won my age group (45-49) at the London Duathlon in 2017 and finished 8th overall. This was fresh from the World Duathlon Championships in Canada where I finished a lowly 34th place out of 48. However my new coach, Australian Michael Pratt of ASF tri, agreed to coach me and the transformation, motivation and "mojo" was back. I fought hard for that win, losing a chain on the bike ride just made me want to blast round even faster. It's the first race where I feel I got 100% out of myself.

And your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was qualifying for the Team GB age group team in 2016. I knew it was a tall ask, I had only competed in a few duathlons. When that email came through I think the whole of my village heard my shouts of joy. I printed it off and framed it. It's still there now, and I read it almost every day. When I lined up on the start line in my GB vest, I don't mind confessing to feeling a lump in my throat and huge waves of emotion.

Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?

In 2016 I broke my neck in a cycle accident at The European Championships in Romania. It would be a full year before I would recover, I competed 2 weeks later in the Long distance championships, racing with painkillers in my drinks bottle and knowing that another accident could have life changing consequences.

How do you overcome setbacks?

I have a relentless focus on my goal that I never ever take my eyes off. The days when I don't feel like training, I just refocus. I have pictures on my fridge, bathroom mirror, a trophy room that doubles as an office, so my whole life is filled with constant reminders to keep pushing.

What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

Consistency in training is key, train almost every day. You can't take 2-3 days at a time off, it hurts your form too badly.

What are your goals for 2017?

I was completely focused on The World Championships in Canada for 2017, it was here that I met Aussie coach, Michael Pratt, coach of over 17 world champions. He has been coaching me since the 1st of September and is working miracles. We have the goal of a major medal, any colour, at any major championships. (obviously I want Gold, and I want the World Championships.)

Who do you take your inspiration from?

My father competed for England at the pole vault and basketball, he spoke to me after every race until his death in 2012. I still hear his voice before and after every race, and I know he has a steady hand on my shoulder and is still enormously proud.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I think it's amazing that Sundried has such a small carbon footprint, unlike the rest of the clothing industry. The work ethic is quite inspiring and sounds like a great place to work. There is a feeling of well-being that being associated with such a sustainable and eco-friendly product gives you.