On Saturday the Team GB women’s squad will carry the hopes of the nation on their shoulders. Today, it was their turn to talk to the media about their preparation, plans and dreams for this weekend’s race. Lucy Hall was unfortunately absent, but Helen Jenkins and Vicky Holland were joined on stage by Malcolm Brown to discuss life ahead of their biggest race.
Can you talk a bit about the training you’ve done together?
Helen: We’ve had a bit of time training together in Bridgend. We all train individually and we all have faith in our coaches that we’re going to prepare the best individually. But having that time together to get to know how the other athletes are and do some specific bike training has been really positive.
Vicky: We don’t get the opportunity to train together that much so it was a good opportunity to get to know each other a bit better and see how we can work together as a team. It was nice to have a new environment and Bridgend was a great place to be for ten days and we came out of it more united as a team and stronger in our purpose of what we’re going to do.
How do you feel about the competition?
Vicky: One of the beautiful things about triathlon is that you can never be sure about who is going to do what on race day. So you’ve got to be prepared for anything and for anybody to come out of the woodwork and have an impressive performance. It’s always been said that the winners of the triathlon have never been the favourites – particularly in the men’s event. Many of the girls are looking in great shape. It’s not going to affect what we do on the day, we’ve got our plan of what we want to do. I won’t go into the detail but we want to go hard.
Helen: It’s always interesting to see competitors at the race briefing and it can make you really nervous if you’re looking at them too hard but we’re used to doing this and we’re focused on what we’re doing as that’s what we can control.
How much are team tactics going to come into play?
Helen: The aim of British Triathlon is to win a medal and with the three of us together we’re more likely to do that. The three of us are approaching the race as a team.
Malcolm: British Triathlon have had a number of Olympic experiences where they did not work as a team and the results of those have not always been great. It seems a logical strategy for British Triathlon in order to get a medal to move to this approach.
Is team racing becoming more common?
Vicky: I would say that we’re not the first to approach it this way and I’m sure we won’t be the last. With the potential for a medal outcome here you have to assume that it will be the more popular approach. The Canadians used it four years ago and came away with a medal so it’s not brand new.
How much of the Olympics have you been able to watch?
Helen: Because I’ve been at home it’s been pretty easy to watch a lot. It’s been hard to not get sucked in to watching sport! It’s been great, it really motivates you, just watching the athletes racing and how much support they’re having. And I think that because we’re on Saturday and a free event to watch we have to make the most of the support.
Vicky: I’ve been in Switzerland until yesterday so I’ve been able to watch a fair bit of it but it’s all in German. I’ve still been able to feel what’s been going on and there’s been a lot said about it. To be here now is so much better. It’s phenomenal. I’m really looking forward to the support – it’s going to be potentially overwhelming and very exciting.
Is there pressure on performing at a home Games?
Helen: I think there probably is a bit more pressure but we’re professional athletes and we have to learn to deal with that pressure and enjoy it too. It’s great that we’ve got that pressure because it means there’s potential that we can medal. I’m just trying to enjoy the whole experience and look forward to racing.
Helen, how important is it to know that this is a course you’ve won over already?
It gives me great confidence to know that I’ve won on this course – and also winning earlier this year. In the past few years I’ve had a lot of podiums – seconds and thirds – but to step on top of the podium over the last couple of years has really given me the confidence that if I get it right on the day and things play into my hands then I can win. I just want to go out there and do my best and hopefully that will be good enough for a medal.