Travis is a junior athlete who has been swimming and running from a very young age. He talks to Sundried about highs and lows of triathlon and cycling.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, I’ve always been involved in a sport of some kind, but from a very early age I took up swimming thanks to my parents and began to run competitively in my early years of secondary school.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
Triathlon was a natural progression from the sports I already had a passion for. Having swam and run from a young age, I was successful in a pentathlon sub-sport known as Biathle (run/swim/run), winning a silver medal at a World Championships in Cyprus. It wasn’t really until after this that I began to really focus on triathlon.
Two years later, I would go on to win the British Elite Youth Championships and Super Series - so it was a good move! 2019 has opened a new chapter of my sporting career however, as I have made the decision to focus on cycling. This was down to a number of reasons, however the primary reasons are firstly for enjoyment and secondly, I believe I can achieve more in cycling than I would have done continuing down the elite drafting triathlon route.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race has to be Super League Jersey in 2018, where I finished 4th in the International Junior event, metres off the podium. This was my best result since 2015 and made me believe again that I could compete against the best in the sport. Not only this, to be a part of what can only be called a festival of triathlon, was just brilliant. The whole island had a fantastic buzz about it during the race weekend and we were really made to feel like professional athletes. If anyone ever gets the chance to compete in the age group events - do it!
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was winning the British Elite Youth Championships 2015 in Liverpool. Whilst this was a number of years ago now, I know it is something that nobody can take away from me and not many people can say they have been an elite British Triathlon champion!
Have you had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
The toughest race I’ve done was the European Youth Championship Qualifiers held near Durham in 2016. As I will go on to explain in the next question, I was suffering with a back injury at the time (but didn’t know it yet). My results from the previous season suggested that I ought to have been one of the favourites to make the team. I came off the bike with a slender lead, having broken away from the rest of the field with another athlete, however a few hundred metres on into the run, the injury took hold and I simply could not run. It took me a long time to mentally recover from this, as I knew it would be my last opportunity to compete as a Youth for Great Britain. I had been unlucky up to this point to have not raced for GBR previously and this result only added to my disappointment.
How do you overcome setbacks?
As mentioned, in 2016, I was forced to take around 18 months out of sport due to a lower back injury, whereby MRI scans showed clear breaks through my facet joints either side of my L5 vertebrae. As a 17 year old athlete, having had a season like I did in 2015, this was extremely difficult to deal with. I dealt with it in various stages if I’m honest. I kept involved in triathlon, helping coach at my local club, Plymouth Triathlon Club, gaining my Level 1 coaching qualification, as well as helping organise a number of multi sport events.
I attempted to return to sport a number of times during this period unsuccessfully, each time the fall was progressively more challenging. My family, as well as a number of close friends, helped keep me positive through this time and I tried to alter my focus to other aspects of life, such as learning to drive! In general though, I am a very analytical person, meaning I tackle set-backs in that way. I pick them apart to try and understand why they occurred, allowing me to try and input some control measures to avoid similar future set-backs!
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
I’m not sure I can remember that far back! If I could give some advice to myself though, it would be not to take myself and sport so seriously, as well as to take more time to enjoy and soak up the good times. Similarly, not to be so hard on myself if I need a day off or have a poor period of training.
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
My summer racing season for 2019 has largely finished. My goal at the start of the season was to earn my 2nd category licence, which I achieved by Easter, sooner than I expected! Since then, I have been trying to learn the craft of racing, throwing myself in at the deep end and improve technically, as well as physically. Winter 2019 will hopefully offer me some opportunities to race on the track, notably the BUCS Championships (British Universities), where I hope to make the Loughborough University Team and again, throw myself in head first! In 2020, I hope to ride my first Premier Calendar race with a team (the top tier of British domestic racing). I also want to try my best to earn my first category licence, which I am under no illusion is an ambitious and optimistic target!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I take inspiration from a number of sources. First of all, my peers. Being at Loughborough University, I am never far from world class athletes, be that the triathletes I used to train with, the many Commonwealth & Olympic level athletes that I see in the university gym or the other athletes on the cycling performance squad. If I was to choose a sporting role model, I would say Jenson Button, who is not only a fantastic athlete, but also comes across as a humble, empathetic and switched on individual through his charity work and competing in triathlon!
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
As a Geography student at university, I love the fact Sundried is conscious about its environmental footprint and committed to being a low carbon company. It is also really refreshing to see quality kit being offered at an affordable price! The Peloton Training Bib shorts are my favourite product, comfortable, well-fitted and at £50, extremely reasonable