A new focus for Will Clarke
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Fri Jun 15 2012
Slowtwitch: Will, thanks for your time.
Will: My pleasure, always enjoy reading the interviews on here and happy to be on the other end of that!
ST: It is official now, no Olympic Games for you. Were you completely surprised?
Will: Yea, I have to say I was really surprised with the outcome. I had a great year last year establishing myself as the 3rd best British athlete after the Brownlee lads and then this year I had a very solid performance in Sydney in 8th which I'd consider medal zone because if you keep on pushing with a result like that it soon can turn into a podium (it did last year for me) and anything can happen in the Olympics. In the end we all ended up running all over the World trying to podium in 3 qualifying races in 3 continents in a very short period of time, which is realistically impossible for everyone apart from two guys considering the level of preparation you need to operate with to be at the very top level. In the end we just had a bunch of exhausted, broken athletes and they picked a domestique, which is a massive shame for our sport and I'm not sure what junior athletes are thinking right now about this!
ST: Of course we all understand that with any selection process that isn't clearly cut, someone will walk away disappointed.
Will: Exactly, it was mostly discretionary apart from the "medal zone" bit but no one knew what medal zone was, I didn't realize quite how cut throat it was going to be till I received the phone call saying…"really 8th in Sydney is not going to cut it and we're looking for two actual podiums". Again, athletes like Tim and myself know we can hit the podium at the top level on our day but we weren't given the opportunity to even qualify with realistic goals and now the most consistent athletes in the country will miss out on their home Olympics and I think it's a shame for the event and the spectators that some of the best athletes will miss out.
ST: The inclusion of Stuart Hayes was not as much of a surprise to me as the addition of Lucy Hall. I think her selection dumbfounded quite a few folks, and not just Stimpson and Blatchford.
Will: Yea, I spent a lot of time with Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson during the whole process and they were both very upset with the decision, even though they had a feeling it might have been coming. They were the athletes that put in all the hard work and gathered the points, sometimes off their own backs, they’re top quality athletes so they deserve to represent the country at the games so I think they felt very betrayed that another athlete just walked onto the team with just one World Series race to their name. Don’t get my wrong, Lucy is a lovely girl and she’s very talented but she must be the only Olympian out there especially in Team GB who’s walked onto an Olympic Team. Sports cruel and the Olympics is cruelest, we’re lucky in our game that there are other races out there other than the Olympic Games.
Will: I'm still working on the plan. I had some time off after the announcement because I was just exhausted physically and mentally and I knew at this rate I'd crash and burn by August so I've had to begin building up my fitness again to hit a peak by the end of August hopefully. I've really got my heart set on doing well in Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships and I'd qualify with a couple of 70.3's in Europe like Antwerp and Wiesbaden to keep the travel down. I know I've got work to do though, these guys can ride, and so can I…but that's on a road bike in an ITU race and really it's all I know. I have no experience at time trialing and I've got to quickly learn and put the strength in my legs with limited time now. However I've had a great winter so fingers crossed I can pull out some good performances. I'm not particularly worried about the swimming and running it's just I really am relatively in-experienced at this type of racing on the bike. Other then that I'll race a lot in Germany and France for my clubs there as well as a few domestic races perhaps.
ST: Will you watch the Olympic Triathlon or will that be too difficult?
Will: Right now it’s difficult to answer for sure but I think so. I think I’d regret it further down the line if I didn’t. I’m not as upset now as I was, especially once I get racing again I’ll be feeling a lot better about life!
ST: Stuart Hayes is a pretty good friend of yours I believe.
Will: Yea, I was one of the best men at his wedding recently. We've had a lot of good times and shared a lot of miles in the past few years, that is for sure. I'm really happy for him that he's getting the opportunity to race at the Olympics, he's a hard worker (obsessive actually) and he's had his fair share of highs and lows so this will be another high for him as he comes towards the end of his career. It's a bit awkward at the moment because we shared the same coach but I'll get over it, just all a bit fresh at the moment
ST: Is the big goal to show your stuff at the 70.3World Championships in Las Vegas?
Will: My biggest motivator at the moment is that there is a whole other exciting side to Triathlon that's totally un-explored by me. I really want to compete in the races I've followed growing up like Alcatraz, St Croix and Wildflower. They look like so much fun but most of all I'd love to have a crack at becoming Britains first male Ironman World Champion. So if I want to start heading down that path then I need to start dipping into that sort of racing starting with 70.3's!
Will: Obviously the location is a massive motivator for me and I won't be rushing home after the race that's for sure. I've always wanted to go here for a holiday and I hope the athletes can club together after the race and share a similar story to Ed, Phil and Alan from the Hangover!
ST: I am sure over the years you have heard all kinds of smack talk about draft legal versus non-draft racing. Do you think it takes a person who actually has competed substantially in both types of events to make an objective statement?
Will: Yea, of course and yes, I believe you have to try both before you can comment! I'm personally really intrigued about how I'm going to get on racing non-drafting races. I know straight away it's going to take some time to find my feet in this style, perhaps a whole winter. All I know is the level in ITU is really incredible at the moment, you have to be in fantastic shape all year to even get in the prize money. Last year in London World Series I ran a 30:30 run split on the wettest day ever on a very twisty course and this one WAS accurate. I finished 14th place! The swim is always very fast, the bike can be very tough because everyone is now riding very, very well and if the bike section does happen to be a 'blow dry' on this day then you'll soon have 30 guys running under 31 minutes and it'll be bloody tough either way! Whatever I do I know ITU has groomed me very well indeed for whatever lies ahead next.
ST: But you are still quite young. So back to the Olympic chase for 2016 after a year or so of 5i50 and 70.3 events?
Will: I'm really not sure at this time, I've been racing the very best guys in the World for 8 years now, I'm really happy what I've achieved and I've had some great times and made some awesome friends. However I did pretty much everything I could for London and unfortunately I fell short and I'm worried about putting in all the work again and being in the same place come Rio especially if it's going to be as cut throat as it was for London. I went to Beijing and I'm proud to call myself an Olympian so the only way I can better that is to go to Rio and podium there and I need to work out if I want to go for that yet.
Will: I'm lucky enough to have a great team of sponsors. I have nutrition covered by Multipower who offer a fantastic range. I recently changed bike sponsors to Focus and I love them! GE (General Electric), Lansons PR offer my some financial help. BMW Elms Cambridge sort me out with an incredible car every 6 months, and Adidas/Oakley keep me fresh with my clothes. I also race for EJOT Buschhutten in Germany and Lagardere Paris Racing in France. I love both teams and hope to always be a member.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Will: Well…I have an amazing wife, and we have a Labradoodle who will run up to 50mile a week with me per week. I wouldn't ever go a day without eating chocolate. I don't really like vegetables, I love traveling (without a bike ideally) and when I was at University I ran 5:07 for the 'Beer Mile' which is 4 laps with a pint 568ml after each lap. Which is one of the fastest ever times in the World ever recorded. My coach almost killed me when I tried to do it the next year though!
ST: How fast do you think you could do it now?
Will: To prepare for an event like this you have to take it seriously, which means doing your fair share of drinking and a lot of fast track work. Even though I am in physically better shape, my lifestyle no longer permits me to train properly for drinking side of things and I’m not the man I used to be this area! I’d give myself a 5:12 right now but I think if I focused on it, I’ve got a sub 5 in me.
ST: Well thank you so much for this very fun chat.
Liz Blatchford has decided to move away from ITU racing and pursue longer distances after missing out on 3 Olympics now. But it appears that the most recent non-selection stung the most. 6.30.12
After 12 years of attempting to get selected for the Olympic Games, Stuart Hayes has finally made it. After a round of appeals the British Triathlon Federation recently announced that Hayes will indeed join the Brownlee brothers in London. 6.12.12
The British Triathlon Federation picked Stuart Hayes and Lucy Hall to serve in Olympic domestique roles in support of the Brownlees and Helen Jenkins; Will Clarke and Tim Don, Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson are left off. 6.09.12