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Pro Q&A: Sarah Haskins

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Sarah Haskins won the Chicago Triathlon. Photo: Competitive Image
Sarah Haskins won the Chicago Triathlon. Photo: Competitive Image

American Sarah Haskins, 2008 world championship silver medalist, currently sits in the fifth ranking position heading towards the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Grand Final and is the United States’ best hope for a podium spot at the ITU World Championship Grand Final Gold Coast. We caught up with the American to see how she is looking forward to the biggest race of the year.

How have your preparations been leading in to the Grand Final?
My training so far has been going well. I raced last weekend in Chicago and used the race as hard training day leading into Gold Coast. I am excited for the race and putting forth 100% towards racing my best.

Given your position in the rankings, how does that affect your race plans and mindset?
My ultimate goal would be to finish in the top three; however, I am going to prepare for this race much like any other championship race. It would be great to have another race like Vancouver last year with a breakaway on the bike, but every race is different and you have to believe you are in the race no matter what the race situation is at hand.

You have been very consistent throughout the year, how will you peak for Gold Coast?
A couple of weeks leading into the race I will fine tune some speed on the run and power on the bike. Due to the long travel over to Australia, I will get quite a bit of rest leading into the race automatically! I am not one to ever have a long taper, no longer than six days.

At the start of the year could you imagine you would have such a good year?
Consistency has always been a strength of mine, so I knew that the series would be a good fit for me. However, having surgery at the beginning of the year I was not quite sure where I would be and if my nerve injury would be healed. Fortunately, I was feeling better sooner than expected and was able to race in Madrid as a last minute decision.

Looking back, I am glad to have recovered so quickly because now I am able to be in the running for the series. Since I missed the first race, I was also not allowing any extra races in my schedule as back ups, so I knew every race had to count. In fact, when I crashed in Germany I was thinking to myself, “Get up, get up! Get back into the race!”. In my mind I knew I needed a result every time I stepped up to the line. I am also racing another series in the States, and I could not fit any more races into the schedule. The season is not over yet, I still need to step up to the line and perform in Gold Coast. Every race is a new race and anything can happen.

As the season is drawing towards a close, how is your body holding up physically?
Physically my body is doing pretty well. As with any tough season, I have the normal aches and pains at times. My nerve injury is so much better and I can’t thank DISC Medical Center and neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Bray, enough for helping me and treating my problem. I have 12 months until the nerve fully heals, but I have noticed signficant improvement. Last year I was not able to race back to back weekends because the pain was too much, so I know I would not be where I am today had I not investigated the problem and worked with amazing doctors to diagnose my injury I suffered back in 2007 at the Lisbon World Cup where I stepped into a crack during the run.

Every time you step outside to go training, what is going through your mind?
I have specific goals for each training session, so I focus on the goals for that workout. Sometimes, I do visualize myself at certain points in the upcoming race. If it is a recovery session, I just like to go out and relax and get the body loose.

What are your personal expectations?
Enjoy what I am doing and never take for granted this opportunity I have to be able to race at the professional level, represent my country and be a role model for young children. I want to walk away from the race knowing that I gave 100% effort for the day.

What would winning the title mean to you having finished second last year?
I can focus on executing the best race possible on race day. Breaking the tape is a goal for every race! Winning the title would be my proudest moment in triathlon to date, although it would be very challenging due to the standings of the other amazing athletes on the circuit. Realistically, I would be ecstatic to finish third in the series.

How do you cope with the nerves and pressure of racing on the big stage?
I know that nerves are a part of racing and I remind myself it is normal to have these feelings.  The nerves and the extra adrenaline help get me in race mode!  However, prior to the race I stay focused on going through the same routine I would before any other race. Since Gold Coast is later in the day, I will probably try to stay as relaxed as possible in the morning and not get too hyped up until the afternoon.

Interview provided by