Visit to GB Paratriathlon Squad Training Day with British Triathlon – by Claire Sutcliffe

BT-paratriathlon-team-aug-15I was recently given the opportunity to visit British Triathlon with my athlete Louise Minchin. Louise was invited for the day to do some filming and raise awareness of our great sport, as her coach I got to tag along, brilliant, how exciting!!

Louise had her camera crew with Verny and Ed so at some stage there will be a programme that I hope I can share with you.  We met the GB Paratriathlon squad at Mallory Park race track which is a fantastic location for training, it even has a lake in the middle.

When we arrived the track was already being used by the youth squad, all getting to practice their bike skills and transitions in a safe environment. Oh to have this facility on our doorstep!

Louise was invited to take part in the GB Paratriathlon squads training session, some of them were off out to the ITU World Para triathlon in Detroit the next day so were doing some specific pre-race practice, others were doing dead turn skills ready for Chicago.  A really great bunch of athletes all with different physical impairments, Phil Hogg paralysed from waist down, Clare Cunningham born with no left arm, Andrew Lewis above the knee amputee, Alison Patrick visually impaired, George Peasgood severely restricted use of left leg after an accident when he was 2 1/2 years old and Ryan Taylor who has cerebral palsy affecting his right side.  It was so interesting to see how they trained particularly the mounting and dismounting practice, I took a video of Andy Lewis doing it with his prosthetic leg and it was just awesome to watch, I keep replaying it!

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From watching the team being coached it was great to see how the coaches interacted with the athletes.  There was a lot of communication and at the end of each segment of training they all came together as a group and were asked what went well, what didn’t, there was a massive emphasis on self- reflection.  The athletes were all really comfortable in the group to be able to take the good points along with the “constructive criticism” and all just got on with it.  There were lots of questions being asked as to why things were done a certain way and it felt like a great “team learning” environment. The head coach is Jonathan Riall and Steve Casson was also coaching, I remember Steve from my swim smooth training during Level 3 at Loughborough Uni.

Louise and I got to do a bit of swim exit practice in the lake with Helen Gorman who is in charge of media and a fab swimmer so that was fun.  We then met with Gareth Nicholas from Maxifuel (Maxifuel are partnered with British Triathlon) who had a chat to Louise about her nutrition strategy in everyday life and pre and post training and also race nutrition.

Next stop was Pedal Power cycle shop in Loughborough where met with Glenn who is in charge of all the elite bikes in terms of maintenance. He had a look over Louise’s bike and offered some useful advice, very nice chap!

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So all in all a great day but the biggest thing I took away from it was the interaction that I saw between coach and athletes, how the session was briefed at the start so that everyone knew exactly what the plan was and the importance of the athletes analysing what they have done both good and bad and then trying again and again to perfect whatever skill they were practicing, the repetition was incredible!  Practice makes perfect!

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