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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Milly McEvoy

Triathletes Beth Potter and Alex Yee make Team GB for Paris Olympics

Getty Images

Beth Potter did not even own a bike seven years ago – now she’s set to represent Team GB in triathlon and is one of the favourites for Olympic gold at Paris 2024.

The 31-year-old made her Games debut in the 10,000m at Rio 2016 before switching sports a year later, having to learn the hard way of mastering three disciplines instead of one.

Potter’s swim, bike and run career took off in 2023 – she was crowned world champion and won the Olympic test event to sew up early selection for her second Olympics.

“I started off as a swimmer, so I swam from quite a young age, but I hadn’t been swimming for eight or nine years when I started triathlon,” Potter explained. “I didn’t even have a bike.

“The other athletes have obviously got a massive advantage over me. A lot of the guys have been doing triathlons since they were 10 or in their teens.

“Learning skills as an adult is hard because you’ve got that fear factor already instilled in you. You know what will happen if you come off a bike, you’ll hurt yourself as I know so well.

“I think you can pick up skills and techniques, especially on the bike, like riding in groups and riding in close proximity.

“I think that was quite hard and I ended up going and training with a bunch of kids to get better at that, I was training with 18-year-olds.

“And it’s just about backing yourself, believing in your abilities and knowing that it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s gonna take time and you’re not running out of time. Even if it takes four or five years to get to the top, just be patient with it.”

Beth Potter is ready to go ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games having won a triathlon test event in Paris earlier this year
— (PA)

Beating home favourite Cassandre Beaugrand on the streets of the French capital has only fuelled the confidence level of the triathlete ahead of her return to the Olympic scene next summer.

She added: “I know that Cassandra is going to be the one to beat next year, but hopefully her being the home athlete takes a little bit of pressure off me, so I can just go there and not necessarily have the weight of a nation on my shoulders.

“I think it gives me a lot of confidence having won there already last season. The way I won in Paris was not the typical way for me to win a race, leading up to a sprint finish with one of the best runners on the circuit and her strengths are a bit more in the fast twitch stuff so to beat her gave me the confidence to win that way and in a different scenario.

“That was probably the race that I was least expecting to win, so to do it that way, in that style, on her home turf was great.”

Nutrition is another crucial part of Potter’s unique preparation approach and Aldi, the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and Paralympics GB, are supporting all athletes with a monthly food voucher, to fuel them through training, competitions, and past Olympic Games.

Potter upended her life in 2017, moving to Leeds to train alongside the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, but stops short of saying it was a sacrifice.

With the doubts of many on her tail, the triathlete often reminded herself that the Brownlees, themselves both world champions, would not waste their time on her if they did not believe she could do it.

Potter has proven the doubters wrong and punched her ticket to Paris, selected by Team GB alongside Olympic silver medallist Alex Yee.

Alex Yee won triathlon gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games following his silver medal outing at the previous Olympics
— (PA)

“It’s really exciting,” said Potter. “Making a second team and in a second sport is really special so, I’m looking forward to a proper Olympic year once again.

“Rio is a tough memory because I was so ill and not able to compete at my best so I just really hope that I can get that right next year and be 100 per cent healthy to get the best out of myself.

“A couple of years ago, people might have thought it was completely ridiculous to be thinking that I wanted to go to another Olympics in triathlon but I’ve always secretly backed myself.

“I’ll do everything I possibly can to make sure that I’m in the best shape possible on that day. The rest is just over to my legs.”

Potter and Yee are the first two triathletes named to Team GB for next year’s tournament with the number potentially rising as high as six British representatives for the event. Some of the possible competitors include three-time Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee, Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown, Sophie Caldwell and Kate Waugh, who all rank inside the world’s top 10.

The 25-year-old Yee won individual silver in Tokyo as well as gold in the mixed relay and says he is ready to live up his tag as one of the favourites for the men’s triathlon having triumphed in the test event for Paris earlier in the summer.

“I definitely feel much more of a mature and complete athlete than I did in 2021,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’ve improved and hopefully that can lead to me racing even better in Paris.

“I have great confidence in myself. And now I’ve been to the test event and raced so well on the course, hopefully I can do it again. I know what it takes to be successful there. I will throw the kitchen sink at it.”

Aldi is the home of fresh affordable eating, proud partners of Team GB & Paralympics GB fuelling athletes through to Paris 2024

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