German Anne Haug earned herself a coveted spot for her country's Olympic triathlon team under the guidance of coach Darren Smith and with a super gutsy performance at the ITU Madrid World Triathlon Series event.
Slowtwitch: It is good to have you with us.
Anne: Thank you very much, I am glad to be here.
ST: It has been about a month since the race in Madrid. Has your life been crazy?
Anne: Well, a few things have changed for sure. The media interest as one would expect is quite big and there are quite a few interview, photo and video requests. On one hand it is really nice to have so much attention, but you have to really make sure to not overdo it and allow it to impact the training. Thus I am glad that we are here in Davos away from all that action and can continue to train uninterrupted.
ST: In Madrid you worked super hard on the bike to catch the leading group. Were you at all worried to possibly having nothing left in the tank for the run?
Anne: Of course I imagined the race to run quite different. But I sadly had a poor swim and then there was only one race tactic left for me – full throttle. I didn’t think much about it though. I know from experience that I can run well despite a hard bike effort. That is something I have done on regular basis the last few years.
ST: But I guess waiting and hoping for someone else to do the work would not have been a good strategy.
Anne: No, I know that from personal experience. You are responsible for your own destiny and that is how I run my races. I don’t want to worry later if I have given it all, and if no one else helps – that is a shame, but can’t be changed.
ST: Did anyone else in your group help you at all?
Anne: On the second to last lap I pulled up to Daniela Ryf. She then helped me out a bit during the downhill section.
ST: In the end you were 4th and had your Olympic ticket pretty much in hand.
Anne: Yes. Sadly though I did not have the fighting attitude to challenge for the win. I was too happy because of my fourth place and the Olympic qualification that the will to win just wasn’t there.
ST: What exactly was the directive of the German Triathlon federation to the athletes going into Madrid?
Anne: Everyone should do their very best performance and the top two would then represent Germany at the Games.
ST: In addition to the 4th place in Madrid you were 7th in San Diego and also in Sydney. You must be content with your season.
Anne: Yes, my season is almost perfect. Last year I could not even have dreamed about this. The new training group and the new coach helped me gain the swimming improvements I had hoped for and I am super happy that I went down this path.
ST: I think you had another 7th place in Auckland, New Zealand late last year. Is that somehow a lucky number?
Anne: Apparently. But I am not very superstitious.
ST: How did you get together with Darren Smith?
Anne: Darren Smith's training group is well known because of all these great results and thus popular with many athletes. Because I didn't have the right results I was actually too shy to ask. But after the WTS event in Hamburg last year a friend his approached me at the airport and asked if I had interest to join the group. I was very happy about this offer and decided relatively fast at the end of the season to jump on that opportunity. The cost for me though was quite high - I was kicked out of the National Team and lost that financial support, had to separate from family and friends and had to give up my apartment in Munich. But I have no regrets. I was 100% sure that I can only improve under Darren Smith to that level that would make my Olympic dream a reality.
ST: And a reality it is indeed, so you were smart to take that chance. But what is happening for you until the Olympic games?
Anne: Until the games I will keep training well and hard, to make sure that I will arrive at the starting line in top shape. I will do that with all my training mates who also have qualified for London.
ST: Talk about your sponsors.
Anne: Unfortunately there is not much to talk about here. Without the financial support of my parents I could not do what I am doing. I'm deeply grateful to have a few suppliers who make sure I have the equipment I need. Plus my triathlon club is paying me a small wage. But sadly I can't finance at all my daily life with that. That is quite sad and I am urgently hunting for sponsors.
ST: Is that a reality that is true for many Olympic sports?
Anne: Unfortunately I don't have access to the financial details of other athletes. In Germany athletes who compete in Olympic sports are often financially supported by the German military or the border patrol, and thus don't have to worry about sponsors.
ST: Are your parents happy with their investment?
Anne: My parents are obviously quite proud of my success, but they would have supported me even without that Olympic spot. They can see that I am completely dedicated and passionate about my sport and support me completely.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Anne: In between and after training sessions I prefer to relax playing Sudoku, solving puzzles or knitting.