Many of us dream of scoring the winning goal for our country in the World Cup final, the crucial game-winning try, or perhaps having an Olympic gold medal around our neck and it will always remain just a dream for most, but one triathlete from Keyworth is right on the track to realising a life-long ambition.
Brothers Alistair Brownlee and Jonny Brownlee are two of the best-known names in the world of triathlon. Both have won medals at the Olympics, indeed Alistair is a two-time gold medallist while Jonny has won a silver and a bronze at the last two Olympic Games.
And now, 22-year-old Sophie Coldwell is on the path to follow in their footsteps and, who knows, could soon become talked about in the same circles as one of the most famous brother combinations in UK sport.
Sophie has taken massive step to a dream she has had since she was a child and will represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games, which is being held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia in April.
The former South Wolds Academy pupil, who is originally from Gravesend in Kent, moved to the area at the age of five and has had the triathlon bug for as long as she can remember.
Describing herself as an active child, Sophie had her first taste of success after her mum entered her into an event at Clifton Leisure Centre when she was aged eight.
She explained: “Mum saw an advert for the event in Clifton and entered me. From what I remember it involved a 50-metre swim, a two-kilometre cycle and an 800-metre run.
“I do recall that I could barely swim at the time, so was pleasantly surprised to have won. It felt like the best thing ever.”
Sophie subsequently raced in events up and down the country, which eventually lead her on to the Olympic Talent Squad and onto the World Class Programme at the age of only 17
Many of us like to run, or perhaps cycle, while some of us prefer to swim to keep fit, but being a triathlete means you have to excel in all the areas.
With most of the events taking place in the summer, a lot of training is done in the winter and, as Sophie explains, you have to be focused to achieve your goals.
“You have to make sure your training is consistent from week to week,” she said. “You need some recovery periods but with fewer races over the winter, it is a great time to put back to back weeks of training together.
“I find that one key to the winter is to make sure you enjoy the training you are doing. It’s a long time before the fun of racing begins again, so if you aren’t enjoying the training you aren’t going to be very motivated.”
Last year was huge for Sophie with her first global medal, a bronze in the U23 event at the ITU World Championships in Rotterdam. She also secured fourth place finish on the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama.
This was enough to secure selection for the Commonwealth Games and she also won senior ETU European Championship silver.
It seems that all those days of training on dark winter mornings have paid off in spades for Sophie, who joins an elite band of athletes in representing their country.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to have been selected,” she said. “When the email came through with the news, I honestly expected it to say that I hadn’t made it.
“It was one of those surreal moments where I had to re-read the email several times before I could accept that I was on my way to Australia to represent my country.
“After many years of competing in triathlons, it got to the stage where I was performing consistently well. It was at this point that my coach suggested that the Commonwealth Games was a very realistic target.
“From that point on, I didn’t really put any huge pressure on myself. I just concentrated on performing to the best of my ability. I knew that I’d put in a good year, but never truly expected to be selected.
“My mum, who has been so much a part of my journey, was absolutely overjoyed and is already looking forward to coming out with me to lend her support and soak up the atmosphere of such a big event.”
One of the biggest events in Nottingham last year was the British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup, held on the banks of the River Trent, and Sophie took the silver medal in the inaugural event, something that will live in her memory for a long time.
“You had the technical bit on the bike, the swim and the run over Trent Bridge and back across, that was literally amazing and crowds lined the route the whole way. Nottingham’s my home – it was incredible. To bring triathlon here was just brilliant.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast from 4th to 15th April 2018.
Main Photo Credit – Thank you to HUUB Design.