An interview with Team Switzerland
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Switzerland has the honour of being the only country to date to win the 4x Mixed Relay format of the ITU Team Triathlon World Championships, since the discipline changed its format from the three member same-sex format in 2009. However, this year the Swiss will see the biggest challenge to date to their crown, with over 30 nations coming to Lausanne to battle for the world team title. In addition, nations are expected to line up with some of their strongest teams possible, as a stellar field is expected to be on-site for the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships the day before. Iwan Schuwey, Swiss National Coach, took some time out to give us his thoughts on the team event and why it is so important to Switzerland to retain its title.
ITU: The Swiss team has won the Team Championships for the last two years, why do you think the Swiss team perform so well?
Iwan Schuwey (IS): We have a few great world class athletes and a great spirit in our team. These are the perfect ingredients for top performances – especially for team events.
ITU: How important is it for you to retain your world title, in front of a home crowd again?
IS: It’s very important for us, one of our main goals of the season! Now that the race is also a WCS event, all the big names will be on the start list in Lausanne and the Team Championship will be madly spectacular. Our athletes are very motivated to win the third world champion title – of course with the additional motivation of the home crowd.
ITU: On the World Cup and WCS, the Swiss are known to have a great team atmosphere and close group. How important is this when it comes to the team championships?
IS: For me as coach it’s very important to have a good atmosphere in the team. It helps certainly for a team event, too. Such events are very valuable for a positive team spirit. And if you even win the race and become World Champion, it’s an additional boost for the team and each athlete. And for the staff as well!
Quick facts on Swiss Triathlon
Team World Championships:2
Total World Champions:3
Elite World Championship Medals:3
U23 World Championship Medals:4
Junior World Championship Medals:6
ITU: Explain the major mental and physical differences for athletes competing in a team event, as opposed to an individual event?
IS: You’re not racing for yourself, you’re racing for a TEAM and for the country. That’s very exciting. You’re proud to be in this team. You know that your teammates are giving it absolutely everything, so you’re just doing the same. It’s a 100% all out story, no mistakes are allowed and every second counts. So it’s a mental tough thing because all these components are coming together and you absolutely want to be part of the success story of the team. Physically it’s incredibly hard. It’s just bucketful of lactate …
ITU: What are your opinions on the Lausanne course for the race?
IS: It’s a wonderful spot, great view with the mountains in the back and the Olympic Museum close by. And the race course is very interesting. It’s great to have a decent hill on the bike, making the races really challenging.
ITU: When selecting a team, what factors do you consider?
IS: Of course the pure physical component is very important. Then the athlete must have a real desire to be part of the team and he must be able to give it all again and even more just one day after a tough individual competition. Race tactics – such as which athlete you pick to go first, second etc. – are also very important.
Did you know the format of team triathlon is?
1st Woman: swim, bike, run
2nd Man: swim, bike, run
3rd Woman: swim, bike, run
4th Man: swim, bike, run
Distances:275m swim, 6km bike, 1.5 mk run
ITU: What would you think about team triathlon as an Olympic sport?
IS: I hope that team triathlon will be Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro. It’s very spectacular and very fast. For the athletes competing at the Olympics to have a second go, this time with your teammates, is just an unbelievable thing! Triathlon has deserved his place in the Olympic family. The ITU is doing a great job now in order to convince the IOC to give triathlon even more space.
ITU: Who do you see as your biggest threats to your world title?
IS: Many countries have great athletes and many teams can be on the podium. Favourites (of course with Team SUI!) are Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand …
ITU: One word to describe team racing?
ITU: Outside of triathlon, what are your favourite sports teams?
IS: I’m much more a fan of individual sport then team sport. So I don’t have favourite sports team
ITU: If you could make an ideal team of all athletes who ever raced, what would it be?
IS: What a difficult question. But it would be very interesting having great and very fast athletes from the past, let’s say a team with Emma Carney - Simon Lessing - Carol Montgomery and Brad Beven racing against our best athletes in the field now.
The Swiss team who took the 2009 title in Des Moines, USA.
The Swiss team who then went on to defend their title on their home turf of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Swiss National Coach - Iwan Schuwey
Related Event: 2011 Lausanne ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships
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