It’s not every days that we see new faces on WTS podium. Tom Bishop from Great Britain wasn’t pegged as a favourite heading into the race on Saturday. His tenacity on the bike and run on the technical Abu Dhabi course helped him to finish second. Since Will Clarke in 2009, with the exception of the Brownlees, it was the first time a brit was able to find his place on the podium. We spoke to him after race to hear more about his rise the top.
How was your winter, did you feel that you were in great shape?
My winter was really good and consistent. Firstly, I had a nice long break socialising with my friends and family and then the hard work began. I slowly built up my running up to a lot of kilometres, sometimes 130 km in a week. I had a good training squad around me too with the young GB juniors pushing me in sessions. My swimming and cycling was kept similar to last year when I was training for the Olympic team. In my mind I just wanted to stay injury free, healthy and happy.
From outside, it seems hard to be a brit athlete because you are in some way in the shadow of the Brownlee Brothers, no? Did you feel that people don’t expect much from you and see you as a domestique?
It is hard to be a British athlete, but also a privilege, as I know, I am part of a really successful team with a legacy. If you mean it is hard to be a successful athlete in terms of making a living, yes. All the companies want to be part of the Brownlee name and it is difficult for people to shine in their spotlight; but what a spotlight they have created. Personally I think we need the Brownlee for our sport to be successful in Britain and the world and I’m grateful that I can be in the British team with them. Maybe from an external view I am regarded as a domestique, but I saw it as a personal development stage, I want to swim fast and ride hard and to try and win races courageously as a pure triathlete and I believe now that I am beginning to show that to the rest of the world.
When you saw the bike course of Abu Dhabi, what was your reaction? You are well known as a strong biker, did you believe that it could allow to create a massive selection?
I saw the course and I was really excited. I knew it would be hard but I did not expect the race to be so tough. It was really challenging and at points I was ‘full gass’ and nearly getting dropped. I’m glad the bike was hard though because I knew the rest would find it challenging. We need more courses which are tough, like Leeds and Auckland.
How was the swim effort?
I was nervous for the swim, I have not tested myself in training and I knew the fast guys were there. The French team are always super fast swimmers so I knew it would be tough so I had to use my brain to swim well.
Can you tell us about the bike, did you judge that it was well organized? How do explain that so many athletes weren’t able to stay with the group?
The bike was so hard because there was no respite. It was difficult to drink and eat on the bike and you had to be very good tactically and technically to save energy. The wind was also strong and I think that I rode in the echelon quite well. My bike sponsor always told me to hide from the wind and I did. I’m a small guy so it helps I can get low and take shelter.
For the run, you were the first outside… like the Brownlee! What was in your mind when you were running alone with Javier Gomez?
Initially I did not have the courage to go with Javier after he bridged the gap to Henri. I was running in the group recovering from the bike, my back was so sore because my saddle dropped on the first lap! Then when I saw Javier and Henri pull away, I thought, what the hell you can go with them and I did. After that I just wanted to run as long with Javier as I could, I felt strong but my tactics were not good and in the end I was running for my life to hold onto the podium.
What means this second place for you? We can imagine that it’s really important for the future…
Second means a lot, my first ever World Series podium. I am so proud and still in shock. It has made me even hungrier to push harder in training. I have the belief and confidence now. I have raced with all the top guys as a junior and u23 and to see them win WTS medals has been tough because I wanted to do the same and now I have and it feels great.
Belief and courage to race for the win. I just need to hold onto my strength and gain wisdom in order to become a serial medalist. I know there is still lots of work to improve myself so I must not become complacent. The standard is so high now we cannot afford to be less than 100% on the pontoon.
Something you want to add?
Thank you to the team behind me, my family, friends, girlfriend and training partners. Thank you to those who always believed I could achieve in this sport and that includes you also Xavier. I hope to see you soon.