Nicola fresh off her Olympic gold medal performace took some time with BH to go over her performance and how it developed all the way to the dramatic photo finish!
Nicola Spirig: ‘To win gold you need to be able to think you can win gold’
The Swiss triathlete of BH Team and winner of the women’s triathlon race in London 2012 talked with us about the greatest accomplishment an athlete can dream of. Nicola is still walking on air. ‘I still can’t really believe I’m the Olympic champion!,’ said the three-time European champ.
Congratulations, Nicola! You won a dramatic race. How do you feel now that you’ve got what every athlete wants: an Olympic gold?
I think it hasn't completely sunk in yet, I still can't really believe I'm the Olympic Champion!!! It's just amazing, a dream that I have worked very hard for and that has finally really come true!
The final part of the race was terrific. You headed for the finish with Norden really close to you and won the gold in a photo finish. What was going on in your head at that moment?
I saw on the screen in front of me that Lisa was getting closer and closer from behind, and I just knew I had to give everything, whatever it takes to reach that finish line first!!
After the race you said you’d trained in running, especially for the final sprint. Did you know that the medals were going to be decided in the final metres?
I was expecting different race tactics and different ways how the race could develop, but one of them was certainly a decision in the sprint at the end. However, I didn't expect it to be such a close sprint finish... But yes, I trained the sprint at the end of the 10km over and over again, physically and mentally.
You looked really strong throughout the race. You reeled in the lead pack on the bike and remained among the three fastest runners in the footrace, regulating your power. What were the key features of the race?
The swim was pretty hard for me and I didn't really know how far back I was. Coming out of the water into transition I saw all the main competitors like Jenkins, Moffatt and Norden around me and was very relieved, I knew then that I was in the race and everything was possible. In the first lap I decided to ride at the front most of the time as I was determined to catch the first pack and as the street was still a bit wet and I didn't want to risk to crash because another athlete in front of me had an accident. This thinking paid off, I was glad I was in the front as I heard athletes behind me crash in the first main corner, and we caught the first pack after only two laps. I decided to keep riding among the first athletes to control the pack and let no one get away as well as to avoid other crashes.
In the end of bike course I had slight signs of cramps, so I was glad the run pace wasn't crazy in the beginning. My goal was to stay with the first athlete whatever happens. As it came to the last 400m I was the one attacking, as I still felt the risk of cramps and was afraid that I would have major problems if I had to react to someone else starting the sprint and changing the pace so quickly. So, the sprint was a bit too long for me and I felt it in the end, but luckily it worked out!!
The bike leg was important because many triathletes dropped off the pace and it became clear that only some of you would be fighting for the medals, so you could save some energy for the run. What were your sensations on your BH G5? Did you have any strategies or you rather made decisions on the spot?
My strategy from the beginning was to catch the first pack, and to let no one get away afterwards as well as to avoid crashes. I felt very good on my BH G5, I was practising for that course and I chose the G5 as it was the best bike for the course in my opinion.
You’ve had a great season, which now you’ve crowned with gold. Besides the Olympic Games, what race did you like best this season?
The European Championships. It was amazing to become European Champion for the third time!
Did at any time during the season come to mind that you were one of the hopes for gold? Did you think so because you were in great shape or because of your race results?
I was racing to win gold. I would have been happy with any medal at the Olympics, but to win gold you need to be able to think you can and you want to win gold, so I was always focused on that and knew I had to beat all the girls to reach it. My shape and my race results gave me confidence that I was able to reach my goal.
You sustained an injury last year that prevented you from racing as you usually do… We’re sure your experience in
Injuries are always hard for an athlete. but I think I also learned a lot and made experiences that helped me afterwards again while being injured. but the injury last year and a knee injury before the Olympics in Beijing 2008 were probably the hardest moments in my career. Finishing my uni exams and trying to train for the season at the same time in 2010 wasn't easy either.
To the fondest memories belong the trainings months this year with my great team mates and my coach Brett Sutton as well as the three Olympics I have been now, the Vice World Champion title in 2010 and my three European titles.
A few weeks ago you told us about your first triathlon. What would that ten-year old girl have thought if someone had told her she’d be an Olympic champ 20 years later?
She would have laughed and would have declared you as crazy :-)
One of your dearest dreams has come true… What are your plans now? What are your dreams for the future?
Until now the time has been very busy since the Olympic race. I have to sit down and discuss the future with the closest people around me in a quiet minute, right now I don't know exactly how it will look like.