Age-Group Champion Pritchard Looks Ahead To Deaflympics


Oliver Pritchard overcame a number of challenges as he struck European Triathlon gold in Madrid last month.

The 26-year-old, who started competing in triathlon back at University, is deaf and wears a cochlear implant, however races without hearing a thing.

“Not everything is perfect as I have to adapt myself to fit into the ‘hearing’ environment. I don’t have enough time to put my cochlear on in transition, so I race without hearing a single thing. I just have to react to other races when the gun goes off and at times throughout the race.”

He races as part of British Triathlon’s Age Group team, which allows people to compete and qualify for major championships outside of the Elite athletes across all aspects of triathlon. The athlete, who is originally from Haslemere, Surrey has found a welcoming community, who try to support him as best they can.

“The Age-Group team has been wonderful.” He explained. “Every time I mention about my deafness people are interested in my story and are keen on helping me out, even the team managers go the extra mile to try and make me feel included. The number of incredible people, both from the UK and abroad, that I have met during my two European races is incredible.

“I can definitely say the community, the honesty and kindness of the people is what makes Age-Group races special.”

Madrid marked a second European race for Pritchard, who currently trains in Eastbourne, East Sussex, after he took home a bronze medal from the 2022 Europe Triathlon Championships Olsztyn. This time there was a lot to contend with as the race changed from a triathlon to a duathlon, which sees athletes complete a run, a cycle route and then a second run, rather than the normal swim, bike, run of a triathlon.

Then in the race, Pritchard had a tough battle with fellow Brit James Hodgson. He overcame that challenge and took home the gold medal.

He said: “The day before the race was very chaotic because we kept getting news that it will be a duathlon or that it’ll stay as a triathlon, one too many times. Within the last hour we got told it was a duathlon, I was pleased that this was the case because the water quality of the lake was very questionable, however I was a little disappointed because I signed up to do a triathlon, but we had to cope within the situation we were in. 

“The race was a fast pace from the start, partly my own fault, as I didn’t want to go easy and have one big cycling pack. As a ‘lead’ pack we stayed together throughout the course, there was a few attacks by some individuals, but it didn’t take long for them to get swallowed back up by the pack.

“On the run it was an extremely tight battle between James Hodgson and I, to the point it was very tricky to know who was going to win, shoulder to shoulder all the way till the palace hill. This is where I thought I’ll increase my speed slightly and hope to drop James and to my luck I manage to, expecting that it would be a straight flat to the finish line, how wrong was I! I had to do an extra 500m passed the finish line before turning back on yourself to the finish line. Safe to say, I was hanging as I used up my tank at the hill and I was lucky that James didn’t overtake me.

“The feeling of running though the finish line first was incredible, it wasn’t because I’m officially an Age-Group European champion, it was more due to my journey to get to where I am today, the challenges I have to face every day due to my disability.”

Pritchard’s focus is now on competing this year in the European Deaf Athletics Championships in the 5000m and he hopes that in the near future he’ll be competing in a similar event for Triathlon.

He said: “I have a few local triathlon races during this season however I have some interesting and exciting news on the ‘deaf’ competition side of things.

“This year I will be going to Poland to compete in the European DEAF Athletics Championships, and I will be doing the 5000m. Then hopefully next year will be the first year the deaf federation will host a triathlon event and I plan to win a gold in that, I believe there is also a cycling race next year which I would like to take part in.

“In 2025 there will be a Deaflympics (Deaf Olympics) happening in Tokyo so all my focus will be going towards that and hopefully bring back a gold in whatever event I am doing.”

Learn more about British Triathlon's Age-Group Team here.

Image by Finished Pix.

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