Her teammates have nicknamed Lucy Hall, the mermaid, but there is much more to the 20-year-old from Leicestershire than just a world-class swim.
In 2011, even though she was still racing as a junior, Lucy Hall was one of the most consistent British triathletes and following her breakthrough season, she was named to the UK Sport Lottery funded British Triathlon World Class Programme’s Olympic Academy Squad for the 2012 season.
A particularlay memorable moment was at the GE Strathclyde Park Triathlon in May 2011, when an elite field including (current) world champion, Helen Jenkins and two-time British Triathlon Super Series champion, Jodie Stimpson saw Lucy exit from the swim in pole position, eventually finishing second overall behind Helen. “I was as surprised as anyone else to be able to come out of the water with Helen and then stay with her on the bike,” said Lucy.
Helen was equally impressed, “I knew Lucy Hall was a really fast swimmer so I tried to get close to her halfway through the swim. We worked together on the bike and because she’s a lot better technically than I am, I tried to get on her wheel for the technical sections. It really helped having her there,” adding Helen.
The second place finish behind an athlete like Helen who ultimately performed so well over the 2011 season, gave Lucy a huge confidence boost. “She has had such an amazing season I am really pleased for her. She really deserves what she has achieved and to see that she did that from Strathclyde, gave me so much more motivation and made me so much more ambitious as well,” commented Lucy.
That ambition and drive was seen in the remainder of the season, as Lucy went on to dominate the British Triathlon Junior Super Series, claiming maximum points in every event in which she competed.
Alongside domestic competition, she also had the opportunity to make her senior debut in the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series in Hamburg. “It was crazy to be given that opportunity; to even to be asked to go to a world championship series race was great. That was my first experience of that level in elite sport. When I was leading through the race, I just couldn’t believe it - I didn’t expect to be leading - I was actually having to slow and then speed up, so I was having a bit of fun with the speeds I could go. I think the only thing I got wrong was my tactics, coming out the swim perhaps I should have just put my head down and gone for it,” said Lucy.
Talking with her coach before Hamburg, the main ethos for Lucy “was just go there, enjoy it, have fun, do your best”. That sense of fun and enjoyment comes across clearly when talking to Lucy, “triathlon is fun - it is my job - but if you don’t see it as being fun, then you won’t enjoy it as much and be as motivated.”
In 2012, as a member of the Olympic Academy Squad, Lucy has world-class support from the British Triathlon team and is part of a close-knit squad at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough. “There aren’t many of us, I think we are quite close and motivate each other to get through the sessions.”
The structured support network comes in handy, especially whilst on early season training camps, “we were doing some horrendous climbs in Aguilas - 20km climbs - and we just tried to keep each other going.”
The camp was a time for Lucy to work on each discipline and to continue her development as a triathlete working on her swimming, riding and running as normal. “I know I am going to have to get my running up to scratch, but at the moment it’s just trying to develop all three. I want to develop as a triathlete, and I want to develop fully as an elite triathlete, not just a swimmer.”
One of the events Lucy talks passionately about was her victory in the early season British Elite Junior Duathlon Championships in 2011. “To win that title, I was really proud, just because many people see me as a swimmer and are really surprised that I have been doing triathlon since I was eight years old. That gave me real confidence in my running”.
As a UK Sport Lottery funded World-Class Programme athlete, Lucy also receives a range of support services. “The great thing about being on programme is you get so much support in terms of physio, nutrition, massage, it makes such a different, keeping healthy and injury free.”
It’s also an exciting time to be a triathlete in Britain, as the sport in Great Britain aims to deliver its first Olympic medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Tuesday 4 August and Saturday 7 August 2012. “It’s really exciting, just knowing that there’s people around you that are going to the Olympics and knowing that you have raced against them as well. There are people in your squad that could potentially go to the Olympics and are going for that slot. It’s inspiring and motivates you that whole lot more to know that the 2012 Olympics are in London.”
Back in 2011, she also competed in Hyde Park and experienced the crowd, when she won the British Aquathlon Championships. When asked about what it’s like racing in front of a home crowd, she added, “It gives you that buzz, somehow you get that extra bit of energy you didn’t know you had to surge to the line or breakaway on the run or the swim. You don’t get that if you are racing in a different country, racing at home in front of a home crowd - is special.”
Lucy began her season recently in South America and finished third in her first race of the season after leading the field out of the swim with a 43-second advantage. Lucy was happy with that performance commenting: “I was really chuffed with my first podium finish. We worked really well together on the bike and managed to open up a big gap. I didn’t run as well as I would have liked, but it was another brilliant racing experience and I’m looking forward to this weekend too.”
She followed that performance winning her first ITU race at the Salinas ITU Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup in Ecuador last weekend – the biggest result of her career.
Lucy will be aiming for Rio 2016, but like any British athlete, the chance to compete at London 2012 is a mouth-watering prospect.
British Triathlon wants you to be in Hyde Park cheering our athletes on or at one of 22 Live Sites around the UK with your friends and club mates. To find out more about the Olympic Triathlon, the race for qualification and the best places to watch, visit: www.britishtriathlon.org/london-2012.