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This is part of our annual Multisport Movers & Shakers awards, highlighting the people you should know about who are helping to shape the sport in the year to come. Read about all of our 2022 Multisport Movers & Shakers.
Seeing a British face on the top of an ITU or WTS podium isn’t exactly a new experience. The British men (and women) have been at it for ages. Think: the Brownlee brothers, Tim Don, and even as far back as short-course star Simon Lessing. Now we’ve also got a male rising star in two-time Olympic medalist Alex Yee. The women have always had a strong tradition too: Look back at Vicky Holland, Non Stanford, Jodie Stimpson, Helen Jenkins, Helen Tucker, and Leanda Cave—just to name a few. But the new school of British short-course superladies has landed, and it won’t be long before the Union Jack is filling the podium.
Just at the Tokyo Olympics alone, the entire British women’s team was in the top 15, and Georgia Taylor-Brown matched her male counterpart with a silver in the individual event and a gold in the mixed relay. Taylor-Brown also took the 2020 WTS world championship title alongside two bronzes at the 2018 and 2019 series. And yet right behind Taylor-Brown stands a line of fierce British women with their eyes on world-level podiums.
In the 2020 WTS rankings, there were three British women ranked in the top 10, and as of right now, there are a staggering six women in the top 20 WTC rankings with four in the top 10. The craziest part? Even diehard fans might not recognize some of the names on that list like number six-ranked Sian Rainsley or number seven-ranked Sophie Caldwell—two young (both 27 or under) women who didn’t even make the Tokyo Olympic team.
Furthermore, the draft-legal glut of talent is complicated by another name who fans might immediately recognize—Lucy Charles-Barclay. The newly crowned 70.3 world champion tried her luck at WTS racing last year with impressive success, taking fifth place and shocking even seasoned tri pundits with her short-course skills. Now, it looks like Charles-Barclay might try to do it all with a run at the the Paris Olympics in 2024. It doesn’t hurt that she’s recently enlisted the help of one of the most successful coaches in triathlon, Dan Lorang.
“This is an exciting project that came a little bit out of nowhere, but at the beginning of 2021 I read that Lucy wants to race short distance for Paris and that she had this dream of the Olympic Games,” he told Triathlete a few weeks ago. “For me, it’s a nice challenge, a nice opportunity.”
Scrolling further through the list of killer British women, and you’ll likely land on rising star and former pro runner, Beth Potter, who ran the fastest-ever world 5K time last year and then won two WTS World Cup events in two weeks. She’s been on fire already, and still has room to grow with the help of her British teammates like one of the names in the list above, Jonny Brownlee.
“I quickly ramped up to four-hour rides and was really struggling,” she told Triathlete in this piece a few months ago. “I’d get two hour in and stop talking. There’d be a hand on the back helping me up the hills. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday were long rides, and it was a knock-on effect; I was wiped for the rest of the week. I had no arms for the pool, no legs for the bike. I couldn’t even run that fast. It was awful.
“But Jonny always said: ‘Just get your head down, keep training and everything else will come good.’ He was right. It may have taken almost four years, but every winter I get a bit better, manage more training, am not as tired. A bad session now is like a good session two years ago.”
Obviously not chalked up to coincidence, the nearly unified British team’s strategy has not only produced more Olympic medals than any other country in the last Olympiad, but there’s enough talent waiting in the wings for at least another Olympics or two.
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