Double Commonwealth Champion Jodie Stimpson has made the switch from standard distance to long distance triathlon racing.
Stimpson, who began competing in triathlon at the age of eight-years-old, has competed at every level of the sport from World Series through to Grand Final.
She began her career in 1997 where she was coached by Darren Smith before moving to Loughborough University where she trained for four years.
“My journey into triathlon started when my dad taught me to swim when I was four,” Stimpson began. “My uncle set up a triathlon group with my dad which had me, my uncle and my cousin as members.
“I did my first triathlon at eight-years-old, and I just remember finishing and my dad being there. The moment of him being proud of me and that moment has never really changed throughout my career. He was there at the majority of my finishes. If I had to dedicate anything I’ve done in my career it would be to my family.”
It was the Commonwealth Games in 2014 that Stimpson says was a standout for her, and with the British crowd behind her, she kicked on to not only take gold in the individual but also the Mixed Team Relay.
“Obviously, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has to be up there as one of my biggest highlights,” Stimpson added. “It was basically a home Games and to have the crowd right there was amazing. It was crowds three people deep screaming my name and to top it all off having my mum and dad, sister and my niece at the finish line was amazing and I grabbed them straight away.
“Triathlon is an individual sport, but it’s so much more than that and my family have been a part of my journey from when I started, so, to be able to share that moment with them and everyone who has supported me is hard to say how special that was.”
Stimpson also recognises the World Triathlon Series race in Kitzbühel as a standout for her where she went from feeling nervous to taking the victory.
“Competing in Kitzbühel is another highlight for me,” Stimpson said. “I was saying to Darren Smith, my coach at the time, I really don’t think I should be doing this. He told me I would be ok and would do alright.
“My mum always struggles to watch my races, she’s a typical mum who just wants me to be safe and she couldn’t not watch as she was stuck on top of a mountain and that was a real special one for me.”
Throughout her long career in triathlon, Stimpson has been an integral part of the British team, but she recognises how lucky she has been to be part of a sport that means so much to her and to have the support of her family and team-mates.
“Anybody who knows me, knows that I wear my heart on my sleeve and my heart is full of triathlon,” Stimpson continued.
“I never wanted to do anything else growing up and I have been asked numerous times what would you do if you weren’t a triathlete and really I never wanted to do anything else. To be able to be a triathlete as my job has made me one of the luckiest people to be able to say that.
“There are so many people to mention and thank but I think it I have to mention my family. Their job isn’t done now I’ve finished with World Triathlon races. Their support is definitely needed for my long distance career too.
“Everyone knows that Darren Smith was a massive part of my success, and I wouldn’t have had a large part of my career without him. Also, the training group, D Squad, that I was with which was one of the best times of my life. I want to thank them too because I wouldn’t have had the success without them too.
“I’d also like to thank my management team at Arête who have been with me my whole career. Their support has allowed me to focus on training and racing knowing I had a great team behind me.”
As Stimpson looks ahead to her 70.3 career, she is relishing the new ways of racing and taking on the challenge to compete with the best in the world.
“Whenever I raced in my career, I wanted to be the best in the world and I wanted to have a good career,” Stimpson said.
“I wanted to beat the best in the world and always be there at the pointy end of races and that hasn’t changed going into 70.3s. The challenge is still there to beat the best in the world. I feel like such a beginner, but it’s opened so many new challenges that excites me and so much that I have to learn. It’s exciting to be on this new journey.”
British Triathlon Performance Director, Mike Cavendish, said: “Jodie has always been a dedicated, passionate and supportive member of the programme. She has been missed on the start-line of WTCS racing over the last few years and it is personally really sad that I didn’t get to see Jodie at her absolute best – through no fault of her own.
“She has always set a fantastic example to her peers and the next generation of athletes both in training and competition and she has played an enormous part in the success that our women’s team now enjoys.
“That said, Jodie has had a fantastic short-course career in her own right – with her double gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games a real highlight. I wish her the best of luck on the long-course stage and know that everyone at British Triathlon will be watching on with pride.”