Fresh from becoming the first British female triathlete to claim an Olympic Games medal here in Rio, Vicky Holland opened up to the world’s press about beating her housemate Non Stanford to bronze in the sprint finish.
“I have such mixed emotions [about winning bronze ahead of Non Stanford]. I was absolutely delighted when I crossed the line and I still am. To come and win a medal for Team GB and for myself is absolutely what I came here for. But to have to beat out your best friend, your training partner, your housemate is hard. And I guess about 5km into the run, I knew that it was going to come down to me or Non for a medal.
“We’ve always said it’s fair game when it comes to the run. We knew we wanted a medal and we didn’t want to let Barbara Riveros [of Chile] back in from behind. So at that point we just had to keep the pressure on and keep running for the bronze. I wanted both of us to do it.
“Non is a huge part of what I do. Half of this medal is hers. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am if it wasn’t for her. I moved in with Non at the end of 2013 and I’ve become an exponentially better athlete for it. I have to give so much credit to her and she’ll be back in four years time. I wouldn’t bet against her in Tokyo.
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“I had to put out of my mind that it was Non. I had to imagine it was another competitor. I had to find her at the finish line and say I’m sorry as fourth is the worst position to finish, especially at the Olympic Games. But she’s the strongest person I’ve ever met.
“The first time we ever raced each other was a 1,500m event at U18 level, I think I outsprinted her then but I was a few years older. Maybe I’ll give it a few weeks before I hang my medal up in the house! I wanted it to be both of us and I think Non deserved a medal as much as I do. I don’t know if I would’ve won a medal if it wasn’t for Non and I hope she knows that.
“Both myself and Helen [Jenkins] have both had a virus, but being athletes neither of us had told each other! I’ve had problems with my stomach for the last day, but I’ve been patched up by the great medical team here and given plenty of Imodium!”
Vicky Holland’s eventual winning margin over Welsh athlete and 2013 ITU world champ Stanford was just three seconds after almost two hours of racing, and Stanford suggested that her tactics had cost her the reverse result or better.
“I was within 20secs of winning a medal and maybe I played it tactically a bit wrong,” Stanford said post-race. “I didn’t feel great out there but I wanted to try and push on and make sure we got rid of Barbara [Riveros] so one of the medals was secure. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard and sacrificed my own race.”
The third of the British trio Helen Jenkins, who was fifth at the last Olympics in London in 2012, admitted she wasn’t good enough after placing 19th in Copacabana in her third Olympic appearance. The Welsh athlete said: “I don’t want to make excuses; I wasn’t good enough. It isn’t anything too serious, on this kind of course if you are a per cent off it’s not going to happen.”