Athletes › Interviews
14 Feb 2019
4 min read
What is the most accurate way to describe our situation? It’s the life everyone wants, but no one really knows what it requires…
Life with Henri isn’t exactly date nights and sightseeing; it’s more 4am coffee wake-ups and late night foot rubs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. For me there are sacrifices, for him, it is an investment into his career and future.
I love traveling with him and getting concentrated doses of time together, although traveling doesn’t always go how people expect it to… Instead of strolling to a museum, we catch an Uber to race briefing, instead of going to the cool restaurants, we mostly order room service, and instead of being on holiday, he is there to reach his goals.
As someone who really doesn’t enjoy exercise at all, I prefer not to get too involved with Henri’s training because I don’t understand why someone would do that to themselves. When asked how he does it and what drives him to keep at it, the answer is simple:
“I set goals for myself at the start of the season, and I aim never to forget the goals set by the younger me.”
Henri, not unlike most professional athletes, is a determined and driven little thing! He won’t stop until he has reached the goals he’s set for himself. Not being able to deal well with disappointment myself, I was curious to know from him: “How do you restart, refocus and get up again after a disappointing result and not reaching the goals you set out for that race?” He thought about the answer for a while but then very confidently replied:
“Having a disappointing result is what motivates me to get up again. It fuels my fire and forces me back to the drawing board to make sure that my next race/competition reflects what my previous result didn’t.”
I also took my chance to ask what his recipe for success is.
“Success comes easier when you love what you do, and I love my sport and racing. My competitive nature keeps me motivated to wake up in the morning when I really don’t feel like it.”
Contrary to popular belief, Henri has those days. The days where he would rather Netflix and Chill than Run Track and Swim… but he still pulls himself out of bed to get it done. Whenever I ask him how his form is or how he’s feeling for a race, the answer has never changed “I’m okay” or “It’s okay”, he never boasts about achieving Personal Best times or feeling fit and good in training, he’s always just “okay”, which does nothing for my pre-race nerves.
As it gets closer to racing and the start of the season, Henri becomes a “more” person and avoiding the looming events become impossible. He is more focused, more driven, more tired and VERY importantly, more fit, more ripped, and so hot. Race week is always a stressful period, so I try to keep the mood light and bite my tongue when, sometimes, I want to rip his head off, it’s a give and take kind of situation.
Henri is painfully organised before he races and has an exact schedule he follows on race day; literally, a typed up schedule that he sends to me the night before, so I know when he needs me to be where. When it comes to the actual racing, Henri really enjoys a tough and honest race which is what SLT offers. The changing formats and the challenging courses excite him and make him hungry for success.
At home, Henri is a different person. He’s relaxed and hilarious, but his competitive nature still shines through, when baking pancakes becomes “Let’s see who makes 20 first” and things like “Let’s see who does 10 push ups the fastest” is shouted down the stairs. As triathlon has quite a taxing training load, it means that chill time is few and far between. When he does have a minute, he is the King of Naps, he loves going for breakfast dates, and he also enjoys playing with our dogs and rabbits. Henri is (on par with 90% of triathletes) a huge fan of coffee so we would often go to different cafes to test out their brew.
As an afterthought, I asked Henri “What are your goals for 2019?” And as some of you may know, he is a man of few words, so his answer was short and sweet:
“I want to be a better person and a better athlete than I was last year.”
It all comes down to the Championship Finale at Super League Singapore on the 23rd and 24th of Feb! Check out what’s going on at the event here.
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