Charlotte McShane was born in Scotland but now represents Australia, and she has indeed represented that country well. In 2013 at the ITU Grand Finals in London she captured the U23 title ahead of Canadian Ellen Pennock and Amelie Kretz.
Slowtwitch: Thanks for your time.
Charlotte McShane: Thanks for having me! It’s an honor.
ST: Has it been nice to spend a few months in Wollongong without traveling too much?
Charlotte: Yeah, I love it here. We’ve actually only been here for about a month so far as we spend December and January in the Aussie Alps at Falls Creek. Myself and most of the Wizards will base here until we head off to the Northern Hemisphere. It is my 5th year spending summer in Wollongong so it’s starting to really feel like home! It’s a cool spot to train.
ST: Talk about the Wollongong Wizards.
Charlotte: We were given that nickname by Michael Flynn, the previous Triathlon Australia High Performance Director at the Auckland WTS Final in 2012. It was a bit of a joke that no one took seriously at first. Recently we’ve had a noticeable influx of international athletes come to work with us in Wollongong and abroad and we felt, as a group, we needed an identity so we brought the Wizard moniker back and it has stuck really nicely. Thanks to the power of social media, it was picked up quickly! The Wizards are now a strongly formed squad with Head Wizard Jamie Turner directing us. As of this year he’s taken on a part of the Canadian national team to join the already elitist group of athletes including Gwen Jorgensen, Barbara Riveros, Aaron Royle, Brendan Sexton, Ryan Bailie. It is awesome. Everyday I’m inspired and pushed by others around me. It’s a very competitive environment but at the same time everyone knows their place and has their own strengths and weaknesses to work on, so it’s also very positive and individual. A few of us have been training together for more than 5 years now so we know each other so well that’s it’s just like family. It’s also true that certain Wizards have pledged such loyalty as to mark themselves with Wizard Hat tattoos. I won’t disclose if I am one of these members, you’ll have to keep your eyes out at races and check out the Wollongong Wizards on twitter - @GongWizards
ST: How long have you worked with Jamie Turner?
Charlotte: I moved from country Victoria to Wollongong in late 2009 to train with Jamie. It was certainly a roller coaster few years, but his belief in my ability has been paramount to my ITU career so far, and honestly I didn’t think I was really cut out for this style of triathlon. I’ve learnt and grown so much as both an athlete and a person since working with Jamie Turner.
ST: By birth though you are Scottish, is that correct?
Charlotte: I was born and lived in Scotland until I was 16 before moving to regional Australia with my family. We moved to Australia for a change of lifestyle and I’m glad we did. Scotland is awesome, and I love visiting, but I don’t cope very well with the cold weather!
ST: Were you involved with athletics growing up and how much did your family inspire you?
Charlotte: I grew up going to triathlons to watch my Dad and my older sisters compete. I guess from there it was only natural that I’d start taking part when I was old enough! My Dad was a fairly decent age grouper and I loved following him around to races. He raced in Kona in 2001 and even as an 11 year old I remember being so incredibly inspired watching it. I told myself there that I was going to be a triathlete when I was older! My family have always been very supportive of me, I feel so lucky to have them all in my life. My Mum & Dad will always be the first people I call as soon as I finish a race regardless of it’s a good or bad one!
ST: As for good ones, you are the current U23 World Champion. How has that impacted your life?
Charlotte: More than I ever thought it would! It’s strange. I forget about it a lot and I guess sometimes I talk it down to myself, and then someone will bring it up and I’ll be like “Yeah that was pretty cool.” It felt weird after the race when so many people were recognizing and congratulating me. I’m just not used to that. Before the race I was so focused on what I needed to do to win that I didn’t really think about what it would be like if I did. I guess too it meant a lot more to me than just being World Champion. I’ve always struggled to really perform under pressure – at the big events - and to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing just that was a huge achievement personally. I feel like I have a completely different mindset going in to this year than previous.
ST: Looking back at that day in London, what do you remember most vividly?
Charlotte: The whole race feels like such a blur looking back. One thing I do remember though is the last 600m of the run when it got really tough and it was coming to a sprint. Ellen Pennock (now a fellow Wizard) took off and I immediately went with her. Suddenly it went from feeling super easy, to really painful. All I thought about was this one run session I did in the lead up with Gwen Jorgensen. We had 1km reps and it finished off with a best effort 400m. I managed to outsprint Gwen in that particular effort, although I admit that she completely smashed me in every 1k leading up to it, and I thought ‘Hey… Gwen’s a pretty good runner. I outsprinted her once… Surely I can outsprint these other girls!’ So I did. I recently told Gwen that and she had no idea what session I was talking about, clearly it didn’t have as big an impact on her!
ST: I guess it only mattered that you remembered.
Charlotte: True. I think it’s very important to have positive memories like that stored somewhere so you can bring them out when you need it most.
ST: Is it fair to say it was your best race of 2013?
Charlotte: Definitely. 2013 was a good year for me. I made massive improvements on previous years and had a couple of top 10 finishes in WTS. However, each race leading in to London I made some sort of critical mistake. I just managed to learn from them all and do it right in London!
ST: Does that title mean higher expectations for this year?
Charlotte: Of course. I know what I’m capable of now, and I believe there is a lot more left I can do. The expectations I have of myself are extremely high, and I think they must be for continued improvement. And I guess a few more people will be looking out for me now too.
ST: So what is next? We noticed your race calendar on your site is still blank.
Charlotte: I’ll focus on the World Triathlon Series this year, starting in Auckland in April. This year the series does end quite early so there is definitely room for something ‘different…’
ST: Like what?
Charlotte: I haven’t really thought past the WTS at the moment, I like to keep my options open but probably somewhere warm and adventurous.
ST: Is there a race you are looking especially for?
Charlotte: Not particularly. I’m excited to go back to the races I did last season and improve. I’m also looking forward to checking out some interesting new venues the ITU will be taking us to.
ST: Your boyfriend is Brendan Sexton. Did you two have a nice Valentine’s Day?
Charlotte: Yeah, Brendan and I have been together for about a year and a half now. We had a lovely Valentines Dinner at Diggies, one of our favorite local venues right on the beach in Wollongong. It was a pretty relaxing night after a usual crazy hard day of training!
ST: Who approached whom back then?
Charlotte: I guess it was mutual, we’d been really good friends for about 4 years.
ST: All well with sponsors?
Charlotte: I’m very lucky to be supported by some awesome brands in Quorn foods, Liv/Giant, Scody, Peter Dullard Motor Group, Spearman Cycles, Lightweight wheels, Spiuk and I’ve also been well supported by the Triathlon Australia High Performance program over the years.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Charlotte: Hmm… I’m a huge animal lover and strict vegetarian, my favorite color is pink and I was U20 XTERRA World Champion in 2008! My website is www.charlottemcshane.com.au and twitter @CharMcShane if you’d like to follow my life.
ST: Do you actually have time to tweet?
Charlotte: Who doesn’t have time to tweet?!