Triathlon: World half Ironman champion Lucy Charles-Barclay eyes 2024 Olympics

Charles-Barclay celebrates her 70.3 half Ironman world title in Utah
Charles-Barclay celebrates her 70.3 half Ironman world title in Utah

Triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay can finally say she is a world champion.

After four silver medals, the 28-year-old worried a gold medal may elude her but she triumphed at the 70.3 Half Ironman in Utah.

And she did it in emphatic style, finishing more than eight minutes ahead of her competitors after a gruelling race made up of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile cycle and a half marathon run.

“The race couldn’t have gone any better,” she told BBC Sport.

“I was in a really positive headspace throughout and I got to the run with almost six minutes on the next competitor. It meant I could really enjoy running the half marathon knowing there was a world title coming at the end.”

Charles-Barclay also spoke of her relief to finally take the top step on the podium.

“In 2017, in just my second year as a professional athlete, I won a silver at the worlds – and when you do that so early in your career you think a world title can’t be that far away. I didn’t think I’d have to wait that long to get here.”

From the pool to the podium

Charles-Barclay began her sporting career as a promising swimmer, but after failing to make the Great Britain team for the London 2012 Olympics she switched her focus to triathlon.

Proving people wrong was “definitely a motivator” at the start of her triathlon career.

“There was a lot of fire burning inside,” she said.

The transition has served her well, though she says there’s a simple ingredient behind her accomplishments: fun.

“I ended my swimming career in 2013 because I’d really lost the love of what I do,” she conceded.

“I love racing and competing and I think I’ve had far more success in triathlon because I am an athlete who keeps it fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s the local Parkrun, I still go out wanting to have fun and trying to win it.”

Next stop, Paris?

She may be used to longer triathlon distances, but Charles-Barclay has her sight set on the Olympics.

“Paris is definitely one of my next aims. The Olympics has always been in my heart from when I was a young swimmer.”

She knows it wont be easy; Tokyo 2020 highlighted the rich vein of form British triathlon finds itself in, with Team GB leaving the Japanese capital with a gold and two silver medals.

Two of the star athletes, Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown, also took top honours in the 2021 Super League Triathlon Championship series.

“We have so much strength and depth in British triathlon across all the distances,” Charles-Barclay said.

“Even just getting a spot on the start line of any Olympic distance race is a challenge.”

There were five British women in the top 10 of the 70.3 world championships in which she took gold.

Charles-Barclay made her World Triathlon Championship Series debut in Leeds earlier this year when someone dropped out a week before the race.

“I came in with very little preparation and I finished fifth, which gave me confidence I could be competitive at this distance.

“Over the next year I aim to get more ranking points and make more start lines to aim for events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.”

Charles-Barclay has barely had time to let her world championship exploits sink in, having jetted straight to Malibu to compete as a wildcard entry in the Super League finale – a much shorter, variable format of the sport.

So before what sounds like an even busier season to come in 2022, will she stop and celebrate becoming the best in the world?

“Absolutely! Oh except I’m running the London Marathon this weekend. It’s just for fun though, I promise.”

Sourced from BBC Sports

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