Late last week Team England confirmed the final names that would be added to their triathlon and paratriathlon squads for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
We’ve already brought you our interview with Sam Dickinson, who will line up with Alex Yee and Jonathan Brownlee on the Elite Men team.
Joining him in Birmingham will be Sian Rainsleywho like Sam will race this weekend at WTCS Hamburg, where she performed so well last year.
We also spoke to Sian about his selection, his progress over the past 18 months and his plans for the coming year. She will race alongside Georgia Taylor-Brown and Sophie Coldwell in Birmingham.
As we said at the time of the announcement, we felt Sian was the clear choice for third place in the England squad… but official selection is still a relief for the athlete.
“Thank you, it’s good that it’s finally confirmed. You always want to make sure you’re on the team before you get too excited. I was hoping Leeds was the final nail on the head!
There will be no shortage of family and friends in Sutton Park to cheer on Rainsley.
“Oh, I don’t think I’ll ever do a triathlon any closer to Coventry or home really. To have it in a mansion is pretty lucky.
In 2021, Rainsley made his WTCS debut in Leeds (13th), won European Championship bronze and clinched that fifth place in Hamburg. That consistency carried over into 2022, as evidenced by his Commonwealth Games selection. Seizing opportunities has paid off well for Sian:
“If you had told me 14 months ago that I would be competing in the World Series and qualifying for the Commonwealth Games, and that I would be on the circuit, I probably would have laughed. I was just trying to take every opportunity last season and ended up doing European Cups, World Cups, European Championships, European Sprint Championships, World Series – probably the busiest schedule. It just took off much faster than I had expected.
Sian also has additional challenges, with Crohn’s disease being a constant balancing act.
“I just did the maximum I guess during the COVID years just trying to get consistent training under my belt. I graduated from college and with my Crohn’s I always struggled with flare-ups around deadlines and exams, so my health just wasn’t great throughout those years. I just managed to get the right medication and take some of that stress off, focus more on recovery – and I could tell my training was just more consistent and better.
“Obviously I train with some of the best in the world and you kind of have an idea of how close you are, but you never really know until race day. It was really cool and I love every minute.”
With the 2022 season extended to the end of November and the Triathlon World Championship finals in Abu Dhabi, there will be plenty more opportunities for Rainsley after his run at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“I have a rough idea of what I want to do. I think there is potential for a few of us to go to a high camp just after Commies, or so. It’s quite a long season so it’s just a good opportunity to get a base again. I’m doing the Super League Series, which will be my next races, then I’ll do Abu Dhabi and probably Cagliari or Bermuda. We’ll make that decision a bit sooner – or who knows, I might want to do them all! It’s going to be a busy end to the season, that’s for sure.
Hot race, fast learning
True to the “seize an opportunity” approach, Sian competed in the Arena Games triathlon events in London (6th) and Singapore (4th). It’s an experience that she believes will further accelerate her progress in the sport.
“I’ve never been to Super League events until this year, and it was really hard to be thrown into them – especially when they took the draft off the bike. There was no respite, at all, you couldn’t squeeze in a few seconds of freewheeling anywhere.
“It was so hot [Ed. in Singapore]. We were in this tent, it was like 30 degrees and the humidity was ridiculous. It was really fun and interesting to run, cycle and swim; it’s a completely different feeling to dive with tired legs. I quite like swimming normally, but with tired legs it’s a whole other thing.
“It was a cool thing to do because everyone said how fun it was, but also with so many races in one weekend it’s good exposure and practice to race the best of the world so many times, seizing the opportunity and learning each time.
“It’s so close and there’s just no room for error. I got a penalty in Singapore and I’ll never make that mistake again. It’s a tiring race, but that also makes it strong.