Sarah Haskins Ready To Battle For Final Olympic Spot

"I am going to give it all I have and be prepared for the toughest race of my career."

Photo: Paul Phillips

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The recent St. Anthony’s winner is hoping to make her second Olympic team.

Sarah Haskins is one of America’s finest short-course triathlon stars, and she added to her long list of accomplishments last weekend by winning St. Anthony’s Triathlon for the fourth time in her career and in a course record time.

Haskins is currently preparing for the May 11 San Diego World Triathlon Series race, which will serve as USA Triathlon’s second and final Olympic trials. She’ll be one of several other American women in the field who will be competing for the third and final spot on the women’s Olympic triathlon team. (Americans Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff qualified for the team at the first Olympic trials in London in August of last year.)

To automatically qualify, Haskins will need to finish in the top nine and be the first American woman across the line who hasn’t already qualified. This will be no easy task, as World Triathlon Series races have the deepest fields in the sport of triathlon, with former Olympic and world champions and medalists competing in every race (including Haskins, who earned a silver medal at the 2008 world championships).

We recently caught up with Haskins to talk about her win and prep for San Diego. Congrats on your win down in St. Anthony’s. That was quite a stellar field. Can you take us through how the race went for you?

Sarah Haskins: I was very happy to accomplish my race goal of winning, and it was an added bonus to break the course record (1:56:55). My previous best time for the course was 1:57:49, which was four seconds off the record back in 2007, when I was sprinting with Michelle Dillon to the line. Usually in triathlon we don’t pay attention to course times too much, but St. Anthony’s is one race that I have been back to six times now, and conditions are usually fairly similar in that you can compare your fitness and times year to year.

The race was tough at the start with a deep-water start. It was a little congested the first 200 meters or so, but then I was able to get clear water and swim just off Sara McLarty’s feet.  At mile 16 on the bike, Alicia Kaye and two pro men rode up to me, and it was awesome to see a few people up the road to help me push the remainder of the bike course.  Once out on the run, I was thinking about keeping a steady pace.  San Diego was in the back of my mind during the run! How’s your training been going for you lately?

SH: Training has been going well. I have been able to be consistent this winter in my training because I have limited my travel. In the past, I have felt traveling far distances takes a toll on my early season fitness, so I wanted to change up my plan this year. I also moved to Florida so that I could be at sea level to focus on acquiring more speed on the run and power on the bike and have a warm-weather training base. Being in Florida also allowed me to race three races this spring without stepping on an airplane! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you’ve spent a lot of the winter training with Alicia Kaye, who was second to you at St. Anthony’s, and Gwen Jorgensen. How has it been training in an environment with these girls?

SH: Training with TCS (Train Camp South) has been great.  Everyone in the group is very motivating and positive. I usually train one to three sessions a week with the group, but most of my training is with my husband, Nate. What are your thoughts heading into the Olympic trials? Do you think you’re ready to place in the top nine and qualify automatically?

SHL In a WTS race, anything can happen. ITU racing is very different from non-drafting racing, and you have to be prepared for many different scenarios to play out.  My primary goal is to qualify automatically, but it will not be easy. I know that this will be a very challenging race both mentally and physically, but I have been thinking about this race since last year, and I feel I am more ready now than I ever have been in the past. There are several American women slated to race in San Diego, but of those women, two have already qualified for the Olympics. What are you thoughts on the field?

SH: WTS racing is the most competitive racing in the world. The team of USA women are all talented and very strong. I have so much respect for all the other U.S. women I am racing against, and I will be proud of whoever earns that spot, as they are deserving of the spot by delivering on the day. I am going to give it all I have and be prepared for the toughest race of my career. If no American woman who hasn’t already qualified places in the top 9, then USAT will select the third spot on the women’s Olympic triathlon team. What do you think your chances are for discretionary selection?

SH: I am not sure about this, and I am solely just focusing about what I need to do on May 11. How do you mentally approach a race like San Diego, where so much is riding on a one-day event, so to speak?

SH: I feel it can be compared to an Olympic Games, as it is also a one-day event.  However, I will approach this race like any other big race. I will focus on what my execution goals are on race day and give it all I have. Whatever the end result may be, I know I can look back on this race and be proud. Thanks Sarah. Best of luck to you in San Diego!

PHOTOS: 2012 St. Anthony’s Triathlon 

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