Newark's Olivia Mathias reflects on World Series debut in Leeds
Olivia Mathias expressed a mixture of relief and joy after coming through the toughest race of her life on her World Series debut in Leeds.
The 22-year-old, from Newark, successfully negotiated the challenging hills of Roundhay Park to come home in a shade over two hours, placing her 25th in the elite women’s race.
Mathias admitted to pre-race anxieties but a solid swim — which saw her come out the water in seventh — calmed those nerves.
Mathias, reflecting on a promising start to her World Series career, said: “It was so hard — the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was really fun to do my first one.
“I didn’t really have any expectations, I just wanted to go out and have fun. It sounds stupid, but I just wanted to finish my first one.
“I was really, really nervous beforehand and I just feel relieved to have done it.
“It’s probably the most nervous I’ve ever been but I was just pretending everyone around me were just normal people and trying not to get too overwhelmed by the person you’re next to.
“It was just really cool to be around them all.”
Mathias, who represented Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, was one of seven British competitors in the women’s elite race and two of her compatriots, Jess Learmonth and Sophie Coldfield, took second and third respectively.
Sharing a platform with the likes of Tokyo-bound Learmonth and three-time Ironman World Championship silver medallist Lucy Charles-Barclay had Mathias pinching herself but knowing familiar faces were among the 4,000 spectators in attendance spurred her on.
“My parents and grandparents are here and my best friend from school has come as well, so it’s a really special day,” she said.
“It’s crazy with the crowds. You don’t see everyone but you see the odd face you recognise and it really keeps you going. It was so nice to do my first one here.”
Mathias’ memorable day got even better in the elite men’s race as her boyfriend Alex Yee stormed to his maiden World Series victory.
Yee now looks the most likely candidate to take the second spot in the British team heading to Tokyo next month after double Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after ‘ducking’ an opponent in the swim.
The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds made its return to the city for the fifth time and represented the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK.