We are now getting into the business end of things.
At this time of year I’m regularly forwarded interviews by Bob Babbitt asking me what I think.
I’ve always been impressed by Mr Babbitt. I’ve never met the man, but his ease of manner and ability to let athletes tell their own story creates a nice environment where you can at times see the real personality of an athlete. Above all he’s impartial and consistently gets the best out of each interview. Knowing athletes, I appreciate this is much harder than it looks.
So, in that spirit, I thought I’d let the triathlon community in on a behind-the-scenes type look at what the Angry Bird (Daniela Ryf) and I discussed in our last pre-race briefing.
Apart from the focus on producing a great result, we wanted to address three things:
Item Number 1:
‘Learn the rules. Once you think you’ve learnt them go over them 3 more times. Why? Because you’re new to Kona and not one of the established stars. You’ll be judged by people who won’t realise you’re the strongest on the bike, and will remain vulnerable until people realise you are up there with the likes of Chrissie and Julie.’
Item Number 2:
‘Avoid penalties. If you are on fire and you hit the front be very, very careful about not getting a drafting penalty.’
‘Coach, how could I get a drafting penalty if I’m out in the lead?’
‘Dani, not one but two of my athletes have been leading the “Women’s World Championship” to be given a 4 minute penalty. It happened in the same race.’ (Caroline Steffen and Mary Beth Ellis 2012)
‘You are going to catch the slow men and when you do their egos will be hurt. Instead of being honourable and pulling out they’ll try to fight and sprint to keep in front, and the officials will be watching. So wait until you’re sure you can blow right past them before making your move and then keep on going.’
*At Kona the women start after the pro men and before the age group men, while being subject to drafting rules that essentially mean slow men can cause penalties for the fastest women. The men are not removed from the race once caught by the females.
Item Number 3:
‘If you get a puncture and you’re in the top three, don’t count on getting any assistance. These girls are here to win. Make sure you can ‘carry your own water’. Practice your tyre changing and be ready for two punctures just in case. I believe one won’t be enough to stop you.’
‘We’ve got no hidden agenda or anything to hide regarding our tactics for the race itself. We don’t hide behind a cloak. Anyone who is anyone in the sport knows our tactics. If you want to win you’ve got to lead the race on the bike. You need to clear the swim, find out how far Jodie (Swallow) is in front and set sail after her. You can count on a couple of things. If you’re having a good day and can get to Jodie, rely on her being the champion that she is and taking as many turns as she can. There will be no ‘sitting in’ for her.
The second, apart from Jodie nobody will be trying to help you. They’ll all be looking for you to ride them into the race. You’re on your own, kid. You’ve done the work. It’s now all up to you.’
Best mechanical luck.