Mike Trees the current ITU Aquathlon World Champion and ITU Sprint Triathlon World Champion in the 50-54 age-group, talks to British Triathlon about his journey to the Great Britain Age-Group Team.
Mike will be defending his ITU Aquathlon World title at the PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final in London on 11 September. He won the title in his first appearance at an ITU Age-Group World Championships but, while Mike is relatively new to the GB Age-Group Team, he first wore a GB trisuit as an elite in 1990 and went on to compete as an elite for both GB and Japan.
What is your job?
I run a well-known company that is one of the biggest triathlon brand in the world.
How do you balance work and family life with training?
My wife runs the business with me and we've now got quite a few staff, both in the UK and in Asia, so it's a bit easier than when we started out. I am an early morning person so I get up at five, take my 16-year-old son swimming and get all my training done by seven.
My wife also does triathlon and she is racing for Japan at the World Championships in London. I used to race for Japan when I lived out there, too, because at that stage I expected to live there full-time and Japanese companies were sponsoring me.
Why and when did you get into triathlon?
I did my first triathlon when I was 25 and came into it from an athletics background - I was British Universities 1500m champion in 1983. Then I got injured and couldn't run for a couple of years and so I started cycling and discovered triathlon. In my first year I finished in the top 10 in the country and realised I could get on a national team. Then I won the inaugural British Duathlon Championships in 1991.
What other sports did you participate in before triathlon?
I was a very keen athlete and I wanted to run at the Olympics for Great Britain but I kept moving the goalposts as reality set in.
Which other triathletes have inspired you, and why?
Dave Scott was Ironman World Champion six times, but what amazed me was that at 40, after five years away, he came second in the Ironman World Championships in 1994. I have always been inspired by people who achieved things later in life because when I was younger I didn't quite achieve as much as I thought I could.
What made you compete for GB?
Representing my country had always been an ambition and triathlon allowed me to fulfil it. I came 40th in the 1990 ITU World Championships, which were held at Disney World in Florida. We swam in a lake and there were people in boats with guns watching out for alligators. We finished the race running up Mickey Mouse Parade, or whatever the street was called, with all the tourists watching us.
How does putting on GB kit make you feel?
In the early days there was a real excitement in competing for GB but, like with everything, you mature. There is not quite that adrenaline rush you have when you are younger but I still feel enormous pride in representing my country.
As a medal winner, what would a repeat in London mean to you?
Aside from national championships, bizarrely enough none of my big wins has been in Great Britain. They have all been overseas so it would be extra special to win one here.
How would home support help you in London?
It would be great to defend my aquathlon world championship in front of a home crowd. You get a real buzz with everyone cheering you. My wife and my kids will be down there and our club, B2P in Windsor, has about 10 people competing so all the members will be there to cheer everyone on.
I would have loved to try to defend my sprint triathlon world championship in London this year, too, but I am also hoping to set a world record in the 5,000m at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Brazil in October, so something had to give.
The free-to-view PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final London welcomes the world’s best back to Hyde Park from 11 to 15 September and includes elite, paratriathlon and age-group ITU World Championship racing. Trafalgar Square will also include a range of fun triathlon activities to get involved with to celebrate the event in Hyde Park. To find out more visit: www.britishtriathlon.org/london2013