Columns › Athlete Column
23 Apr 2021
5 min read
This year I had to watch rather than take part in the SLT Arena Games but I enjoyed them so much and seeing how quickly things can change in racing over the space of a few weeks.
The outstanding performers across the two events were obviously Beth Potter and Sophie Coldwell.
It was really interesting to see the change in performances even with only three weeks between the races. It goes to show you don’t really know what is happening around an event or leading into it or how different the pressure is.
I tipped Sophie in my last column, just before the London event. That could have put pressure on her. I am certain it didn’t, but some weird things can get in your head. For Beth, she went into London as an underdog – though she shouldn’t have been – and then going into Rotterdam she was the big favourite by far.
I see the effect of pressure every day. You watch athletes train, they are on top form and you can’t wait to see them race. Then they put so much pressure on themselves and they are nowhere. You are thinking ‘how on earth did that happen?’ But pressure is a weird thing because you can put it on yourself and also feel it from others, even if they aren’t meaning to give it to you.
For Beth it was an amazing few weeks, but also hard as well. It was the first time she had done Super League and won in London, then went into the 5k and ran so well and the media attention was massive. Not only that but there were people knocking her and saying it wasn’t official. At the end of the day she still ran as fast as she ran. If it’s not official then she still ran a bloody fast 5k.
She then had to travel to Rotterdam and come under pressure as the favourite rather than the underdog.
Also, though, huge credit to Sophie. Beth may not have been quite as fresh but Sophie came off the back of London and improved.
It was great to see and I would have loved to have been in the mix with them. I don’t know if I would have come out very well because the performances seem to be going up and up since I raced last year but it was great fun to watch.
It wasn’t always obvious who was going to win each event. In Rotterdam you would have thought once Sophie got on the treadmill with Beth that Beth would run away but that wasn’t the case and spiced it up a bit.Both events really underlined the importance of transitions. In Rotterdam last year, Georgia Taylor-Brown raced really well across the board on individual disciplines but she was absolutely shocking with getting her goggles on or her shoes on. So she went from racing really well to coming fifth and it’s just amazing how it makes such an impact on your result.
When I raced Rotterdam in 2020 I don’t think I was super quick but I was aware of the importance of transitions. It was the difference between getting away on the bike or being in a group on the bike. It is so quick and you’ve got to be on it.
The swim hat is the hardest bit because your hair’s wet, your head’s wet, and I think I saw Sophie had her full hair out of the back which must have caused so much drag.
I did message Sophie and I should have really taken the credit after my tip! I knew she would do well because she’s so fast. The GB girls always look at transition times and no matter what the race she is always the fastest at transitions. She’s also very punchy and a very good athlete sprint wise and she showed it.
It will be interesting to see how she gets in Yokohama as the WTS season starts in a few weeks from now. Beth as well. If the race goes her way and comes down to the run, and Yokohama is known as a runner’s race, then there’s no reason she couldn’t win there.
I am really pleased to say that things are going really well after what has been the hardest time of my entire career.
Injuries have never really bothered me and I’ve never found it difficult but this one has knocked me for six, and not just physically but mentally, so it’s nice to get over that and get through it.
It’s been a hard winter but things are definitely going the right way now so I feel like I am going to time it quite well hopefully.
I have such a big year and people ask you what you are doing and I’ve literally just had to take it week by week. I was trying to look ahead and then something went wrong and I ended up going backwards and having more time off, so it’s been weird.
I am actually in a really good place at the minute and I need to build on it and get fitter and ready for a few month’s time.
I am so lucky that the only races I have missed are the two Super League’s. I think it would have been so much worse if I had missed a few Super League and World Series, so it has softened the blow a bit. I am catching up, racing is only just starting and I’m nearly there. I have to say I am very lucky.
I expect to be racing again by WTS Leeds. I wouldn’t think I will be flying in Leeds but the good thing is I don’t need to be. I just need to get a race under my belt ready for another few months of training and then ready to go again.
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