2015 has been a pretty crazy year for me and now that my ITU schedule has ended it gives me a chance to look back at it all and realise how big it was and all that has really happened. Early on this season I was able to get some good results on the board taking out Australian and Oceania championships which had me optimistic of getting to have a crack on the big stage, The World Tri Series. I was pretty nervous heading off to these races early on but with no expectations on me it was perfect opportunity to go and learn and get a feel for racing at the highest level. I learnt a lot from this and each race I went to I changed the plan, both mentally and physically. All along though, I knew the main focus for 2015 was the U23 world championships in Chicago. “Now I just have to go win Chicago” I told coach Jamie Turner after finishing second in the juniors in 2014, and it is something he reminded me of throughout the year. That would be the day when all of the lessons learnt through 2015 will need to be put into practice and executed.
I arrived in Chicago well rested and confident I’d be set to go on race day. Confident because training was going really well over the past month and well rested because I had got a grade one tear in my hamstring seven days out. Not ideal, but it was (almost) time to taper anyway. It just meant I had to swim with a pullbouy, band and touch turn, and ride and run easy and short in the last few days with a few little attempts at 70-80% pace. Thankfully with the help of Triathlon Australia staff we got to race day ready to go.
I was ranked number 1 which was pretty cool, this meant I had prime position on the starting pontoon and was ready for my best swim of the year. A one lap swim was a bit different but I knew if I got through the first 750m out and back loop up towards the front, the 750m straight to finish I would be able to jump on the feet and hold on. It’s not often easy to tell but from what I could see I was in a good position still at half way and knew if I could hold that I would be up amongst the leaders. I comfortably was through transition and onto the bike amongst the front group. I was really happy to be positioned where I was, it is a great feeling to jump on the bike and not have the need to chase, a feeling I don’t have often in races. So far I’d ticked all the right boxes and the race was going well.
I was prepared for the demands of the technical bike course, with six 180 degree turns and eight 90 degree turns per lap (8 laps) it was important to stay up towards the front and I did that with more than my share of work on the front just to avoid dropping to the back. By lap one on the bike I had got three separate cramps, one of which was in my hamstring which had me a little bit worried as we got closer to what would then be a 10km footrace.
From the very early stages of the run there was a group of five, Mcdowell, Benson, Castro, Oliveras and myself that set the pace up the front running ahead of the rest of the field. The main struggle from here was to keep myself relaxed and remember that 10km is still a long way. I tried to let others set the pace and just make sure no one got far enough away to be a concern. A four lap run gave me a chance to take note of where others were struggling and what areas I would be best to make my move. I had no intentions of letting the race go down to a sprint finish after making that mistake at junior worlds last year and finishing of second best. After 2 laps I knew where, if everything remained the same, I would make my move. As we rounded the transition and finish area for the final time there was still five of us but not for much longer. The Spanish pair, Castro and Oliveras attacked together and put space between us and the other two who couldn’t close the gap down. I bridged back up steadily and this was the first time I was really put under pressure and soon after they went again, this time much less aggressive and I was able to hold position. This final attack took us to the base of the out and back (very slight) hill where I had planned on making a move and picked up the pace one gear at a time until I began to string them out. One more gear and I was clear with just under 1km to go before the blue carpet and a world championships gold medal! Something that didn’t really sink in for a couple of days, it’s a pretty awesome feeling executing a race plan, and to do this under the pressure of a world championships feels pretty special.
I have now arrived back home after 4+ months overseas and will be taking a bit of time to relax and enjoy everything that this year has given me before getting back into things before a few non drafting races to end 2015.
To my family, coach, triathlon Australia, my sponsors and of course the Wollongong Wizards, thanks for everything you’ve done for me over the years, I wouldn’t be here doing it alone!