Georgia Taylor-Brown is no stranger to adversity, but the British triathlete is hoping to use those experiences to help her qualify for Tokyo 2020.
The 25-year-old, who is from Manchester, has faced no shortage of obstacles in her burgeoning triathlon career, arriving as a latecomer to the sport and battling a series of injuries on the way to a memorable AJ Bell World Triathlon victory in her current hometown Leeds earlier this year – her first ever World Triathlon Series win.
Taylor-Brown finished third in the overall ITU World Triathlon Series Rankings this year, replicating her achievement of 2018 and capping off another storming year where she also finished on the podium in Montreal and Lausanne.
But it’s been a long-term uphill battle for the precocious young star, overcoming a series of hurdles since starting the sport as a 15-year-old to get to where she stands today.
“Growing up, sport was all I knew, and I just wanted to be an athlete,” she reflected.
“I did a lot of running and swimming, but when I was 15 my Mum said, ‘You can’t just keep doing both half-heartedly.’
“So, the logical thing to do then was to add another sport in! But I’d never ridden a road bike at all until I was 15 so that was a bit daunting.
“I spent most of the time in the van that followed all our rides eating jelly babies and crying, because I felt pathetic that I was getting dropped back from the group every time.
“It was definitely one of my biggest hurdles that I’ve had to overcome but I stuck at it – I was coming into a new sport and I didn’t know anything about it.”
Taylor-Brown persevered admirably, patiently developing her skills on the bike while also completing a degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Beckett University.
But it was there where her difficulties intensified, sustaining a serious injury during her second year that prevented her involvement in the sport for a full two years.
“It was quite hard to balance my training and education when I was at university and I got it wrong,” she added.
“I tried to do a full-time university degree and full-time triathlon training, and I just didn’t put the time into recovering.
“I had a navicular stress fracture in my foot that I had to have screwed, and I didn’t race for two years so it was a long time of recovery.
“It often felt like it was one step forward, two steps back, and it felt like it was going nowhere at points.”
But Taylor-Brown showed all her mental fortitude in making a full recovery, hitting the heights in 2018 with a remarkable breakthrough season where she placed third in the overall ITU Series standings.
And after following that up with another podium finish last season, she is hoping she has what it takes to book her seat on the plane to Tokyo heading into a crucial Olympic year ahead.
“I’ve always been quite strong, and I’ve always seen myself as quite lucky that I can do triathlon as a job,” she said.
“It would be pretty special to go to the Olympics – it would be my first Olympics, and I’ve dreamed of going to the Olympics since I was a little kid.
“I’ve had that dream since I was about ten, so it would be quite special to get there, and it would mean all that hard work has paid off.
“But if I don’t get selected there are still other races out there in the World Series – there are other athletes out there who are better than me, and I’ll just keep plugging away for Paris in 2024.”
British Triathlon are hosting the World Triathlon Series Leeds 2020 from 6 – 7 June. Tickets are now on sale and you can secure your place at the heart of the action by visiting https://www.millsqleeds.com/whats-on/all-shows/aj-bell-world-triathlon-leeds-2020/5536