by Andy Lewis, 25th July 2016
Nervous, scared & thinking of the past, that’s how I felt going into the World Champs this year. The event this year was taking place in Rotterdam.
A very large team of the performance squad along with quite a few key members from the British Triathlon talent squad teamed up to to take on the world. I’m not a massive fan of travelling in big groups as it stresses me out as we have so much lot so I always opt to travel alone also from closer to home.
I left home to fly to Amsterdam at 4am on Friday the 21st of July. I made it to the airport with a few hours to spare. Once checked in and through security I went straight for the coffee, it’s my morning ritual.
Also followed by some Salmon & scrambled egg on toast.
I always use my wheelchair at the airport to ease the use of my leg as I’m always thinking of the next session ahead and like to have a leg in good health, this is very important to me.
After filling my face I was escorted by the excellent staff at Bristol airport, who always help me. We boarded the aircraft and made our way to Amsterdam Schipol airport.
I was amazed how quick it took, 57mins in fact, made the waiting at the airport seem pointless. Thoughts still tuning through my head about this event. (For those that don’t know last year I did this event i really made a big mistake by doing an extra lap by mistake) it ripped me apart, tore me open from the inside, I nearly quit triathlon over it, I lost a funding opportunities, let my family, friends down so I wanted to put that right this year.
Once I arrived at the hotel I went out for a stroll to get my bearings while waiting for the others to arrive. They were coming on a later flight so it was good for me to have a look around the city of Rotterdam.
Thursday night after everyone arrived we went for a team meal. Our performance manager asked me to say a few worlds to welcome the talent squad to the table. I was honoured and spoke about my journey and the benefit of us all being one team.
The following morning we made our way to the pool for an early morning swim. There were quite a few other athletes present from other countries. I’m always interested to see what other form athletes are in no matter what their category. If see people from my own categories the nerves get the better of me at times but it does fuel my desire to win.
This was the only day we swam in the pool, the following day we swam in the open water and road the bike course . It was very technical & twisty, it was definitely my sort of race circuit. After that early start.
That was it, the next day was race day it was time to get my head in the right place. The race was starting at 3:45 so had all day to prepare, plan and then execute a great race.
I planned everything from checking my kit twice, making sure my bike was in tip top condition though to nutrition. Its so important to be fuelled right.
We left the hotel at 12:30 on Sunday 24th July to make our way to the venue. It was a split transition, this means that the bike and run start and finish in different places.
On arriving there we scoped out the venue, It was amazing to have my coach on my shoulder taking away any worries and given me some great advice.!
After checking T1 we moved across the river to T2 where we had some time to get warmed up. I took my time to chill out, sort my kit, get the last bit of nutrition on board (including my favourite piece of nutrition a mars bar) I then set my equipment up on transition and proceeded to get warmed up. I did this by running on my blade for five minutes, after this I did some land based swim warm up exercises.
At 3:15 we were asked to get lined up for our athlete intros. I always find that we are towards the back for this and get introduced last. This doesn’t help the nerves normally but this time I sat on the floor and just kept sipping water, I actually felt quite chilled. I knew I could out swim most of the guys in my class but that didn’t matter now my number was being called.
I sat on the podium next to team member Ryan Taylor, I advised him I was going for the win and was going to try and hunt the best swimmer on this pontoon down who was American guy. We were told to get in the water, take your marks, we were off.
I swam really hard at the beginning to the point I couldn’t breath but soon settled into my grove once I had escaped the pack. I could see the American guy right in front of me so I sat behind him to get in his draft. He was kicking on and swimming really well, I managed to swim wth him for a few hundred metres but then he dropped me for a bit.
As we exited the water I was back with him, I quickly put my leg on, which went well and I then removed my wetsuit, which could of been a bit slicker however my swim was 10min 30sec so very happy to get close to the 10min mark.
We were then into T1 it was really heating up, as I ran into transition I look around to see who’s bikes have gone etc, they were all in the racks so I knew I was near the front. I managed to get my bike up to speed pretty quick and I was fully committed to the bike. The course was very technical and during the second sharp ninety degree turn I clipped the kerb, I was pushing to hard, thinking more about power than I was about the race lines. I re-focused myself and starting to take control of the race. With a burst of energy I was out in front, I was leading a world championship race. After a few more hair raising incidents and on the fourth and final lap of the bike. I heard a French coach shout at an athlete behind me, it could only be one person, my French rival Stephane Bahier. He came past me on the bend, I decided I want going to let that happen so took my position back on the next bend and held it all the way into Transition.
I racked my bike, making a minor mistake with putting my kit in the box so had to go back and rectify it as I didn’t want a penalty. At this point the French guy was on me and we both ran out of transition together. I could hear the slapping of his blade on the floor behind, I needed to get away and fast. I didn’t want to blow up on the first lap but I knew work hard now and reap the rewards.
After the first lap I was way out in front, I couldn’t see anyone, I thought I had made a mistake, had I gone the right way, had I done enough laps on the bike. It all came flooding into my head. As I passed one of the coaches I asked for a time check on second place behind me, I was told they would find out, so as I passed the next coach I was told that the lead was increasing. This was it I started to get emotional thinking about being World Champion, was it really going to happen, first European now Worlds leading into Rio I wouldn’t be happier.
I finished the second lap catching some of the other slower runners it was then on to the finish. The finish chute was in sight I could hear people cheering and the music.
I ran down the finish chute with the coaches telling me to enjoy this moment. I had won, not only had I won but I had beaten my USA rival by two minutes and my fellow GB team mate by 5.
I feel elated, overwhelmed with such an achievement of taking on the World and winning. Now with Rio around the corner and only 46 days to do my training will exactly remain the same nothing will change. I’m going to ensure that all my nutrition, swim, bike & running remain in the best possible place so that I can go to Rio with the best chance of coming home with a medal.