In Profile: Laura Bennett (USA)
Home support in Washington, DC at this Sunday’s Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series race will be cheering on an array of US stars. We spoke to Laura Bennett, one of the country’s most experienced and successful athletes about her thoughts heading into the weekend.
As an accomplished swimmer and runner at University, Laura started in triathlon with some impressive results which gained her selection for the USA junior team at the 1994 World Championships. During her debut professional season in 1998 she stood on the podium at the Noosa World Cup in Australia before commencing a run of excellent World Championship performances, collecting three bronze medals and a silver between 2003 and 2007. At the Beijing Olympic Games Laura finished just 26 seconds off the podium in fourth, incidentally the same finishing position of her husband, Greg, at the Athens Olympics four years earlier.
Name: Laura Bennett
Debut year: 1998
World Series wins: 4
World Series podiums: 11
This is your first Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championships race of 2009. What kept you out of racing in Tongyeong and Madrid?
This will be my first World Champs race and first race of the season all together. I picked up an injury in May of last year and managed it through to the end of the season. When I starting training in January it still was not sorted so I took a step back and focused on getting it right.
You were an agonising fourth in last year’s Olympic Games. How do you look back on the race now?
I look back with a bit of disappointment in the fact that I had a cleat break on my cycling shoe which injured me enough to not have the opportunity to race much before the Games. I had such a great prep over three years leading into the trials and making the team, and so to have something mechanical happen three months out from the race was a bummer. All the pieces of the puzzle have to be in place when it comes to championship races. I made the most of it last summer, and for that I am proud of myself, plus I learned a ton which is all good for the future. The bad timing of the injury was the disappointment.
With attention focused on Washington you’re back in the public eye. Do you like the pressure that brings?
I don’t mind the public eye, I aim to please! I do set my own expectations first though, then take on others. I definitely do not like to disappoint, the catch is and it is unfortunate, others don’t usually have all the facts so expectations can often be askew. I do see it all as flattering, to have people wanting you to perform, and I will always appreciate it!
How do you see the race developing at the weekend, and how do you rate your chances?
From the recent results, I could take a guess as to how the race will unfold, however, regarding my involvement I won’t know until I am in it. Since I haven’t raced since last October and my training has been impaired, I would have to think that at the first couple of races will not be at my peak, rather contributing to my overall fitness.
Your husband, Greg, is in the men’s competition; does that make it hard to concentrate on your race because you want to support him? How do you cope during race weekends?
This will actually be the first time he races before me, he usually has to deal with the stress of watching me perform before him. I don’t think it will effect my race, I look forward to cheering him on and fueling off it for my race.
Next week we’re in Des Moines for the Elite Cup and the inaugural Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Team World Championships. You must have some great memories of competing in Iowa.
I have great memories of Hy-Vee, I can invoke my feelings of my experiences there with a moments notice, and it will always be a very special race for me.
How excited are you about the new team competition format?
Hy-Vee is doubly exciting this year because of the team champs. I absolutely love the short racing and hope that I am fit enough to enjoy it on the day. I love the burn and feeling of being able to absolutely attack it, hanging on for dear life and redlining to the finish. I always enjoyed competing in relays in my swimming days as I love the team work aspect. So for me good times, can’t wait!
What are your race plans between now and the Grand Final?
My plans are DC and Des Moines, then head over to Hamburg and London… hopefully I’ll be in peak shape for the Grand Final on the Gold Coast!
Does this new consistent World Champs season suit your style of racing, or do you prefer one big competition each year?
I think I am biased in saying I prefer the one big competition each year because I have had a great deal of success at them. That being said, I am very excited about the Dextro Energy Triathlon - ITU World Championship Series.