Having travelled with the Australian team to Europe the past 4 years, I was obviously very excited to be immersed in the high performance environment that has been established at the base in Vitoria in Spain. This is about 45min from San Sebastian, in the north-west. This is always an invaluable time to learn and absorb, whilst working with the worlds best athletes. Vitoria is home to not only the “Wollongong Wizards” but also other athletes from all around the world that call it home for 6 months every year. In addition to the time in Europe, I was selected to be the physio that travelled with the Australian team to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which is a real honour professionally and personally after many years of hard work.
I first travelled to Chicago for the WTS race there. Chicago is home to next years World Championship for the sprint and Olympic distance races. If you are thinking of going, it is an amazing city that did an excellent job of hosting this years WTS race and I cannot recommend it highly enough! From there I spent the next three weeks in Vitoria working every day with the athletes, there is never a dull moment there, which I love and also got to do a little training of my own on the roads and trails in the often blazing sun.
Having five athletes in Vitoria that were competing in the Commonwealth Games really added to the excitement around the camp and as everyone lives in apartments next door to each other and are all good friends, big races like this lifts the spirits of the group, as they all genuinely wish their training buddies the best possible results.
No one expected the weather that greeted us in Glasgow – mid to high 20’s and all sun! The city really put on the atmosphere and got right into the spirit, as the Scot’s do! We arrived on the Sunday night to the village, prior to the individual race on the Thursday and the teams race on the Saturday. The next few days there were plenty of commitments for the athletes, both in the obvious pre race preparation and also the media and external commitments for them that are typical surrounding bigger races! Fortunately for me, all of the athletes were in great shape heading into the race, so I didn’t have to ‘fix’ anything, just maintain.
The individual races were very exciting and had a slightly different dynamic than normal WTS races with smaller fields. In both the men’s and women’s we didn’t quite get a medal, with 5th, 8th and 9th in the men’s and 5th, 7th and 9th in the Women’s. This was obviously very disappointing for the athletes and coaches, as we were a very real chance of medals in both races. That is sport however, which is even more evident at the highest level. The athletes commit their entire lives to their profession – which is unique and sometimes it comes off and often it doesn’t. The difficult thing for athletes at this level is that everyone they line up next to is doing the same. Committing and investing the same amount and are just as desperate to win.
Between the individual race and the teams race there was only one day, making recovery vital for the athletes who were selected to race. This is slightly different for each of them, but typically involves some light training that afternoon and the following day, along with all the usual recovery methods – ice baths, massage and physio, stretching, sleep and a very good diet. While England were obviously going to be very difficult to beat, here was a lot of expectation heading into the teams race and they didn’t disappoint. The Wollongong boys Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie had awesome legs, with Ryan outsprinting two other athletes to claim bronze behind England and South Africa. Having been to three Olympics and two Commonwealth Games, this medal was bar far the most exciting I have witnessed, as I had worked closely with the athletes for a long time. It was also the most stressful, I needed a pretty long sit down after they had finished to calm the nerves!
Working with triathlon at the highest level is something I consider myself very fortunate (not lucky!) to be doing. It teaches me so much about not only the finer elements of physio, performance and also coaching. I get to work with world leading coaches and staff, which I am very passionate about learning and implementing these things in my daily work environment as a physio and a coach!