For most people making the Commonwealth Games is an achievement in itself. But for Beth Potter, she’ll look to make history on Australia’s Gold Coast by becoming the first Scottish athlete to compete in two sports at the same Games.
Already an accomplished runner, Potter was fifth in the 10,000m at Glasgow 2014, a truly home Games for the Glaswegian. So why then has she added another sport to her growing list of talents?
“Back in 2012 I remember watching Alistair and Jonny [Brownlee] in London and I was injured at the time. I was training a lot in the pool at Loughborough University and just watching them really inspired me. It was difficult to make the change then with the prospect of a home Games coming up in Glasgow, my home city, and I wanted to do that on the track. Having then done so well at the Commonwealth Games I thought I better give the Olympics a shot, so it’s been a long time coming but I’m happy with my decisions.”
After just missing a medal in Glasgow Potter pushed on, making the Olympic team for Rio with a very special run at the trial race, which was incorporated into the Highgate Night of the 10,000m PBs. But in the back of her mind the lure of Triathlon still lingered. So what was it that ultimately made her take the plunge?
“I suppose I had achieved what I wanted in running, making the Olympics, and Triathlon is just something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s not that time is running out, but I am getting a little older and I knew it would take me a couple of years to get used to it. So I thought if I’m going to be realistic about it and give myself the best possible chance I need to make the decision sooner rather than later. It came at a good time after the Olympics.”
So from that moment on one sport turned to three as Beth swapped London for Leeds and turned her whole world upside down.
“This time last year I was just really tired all the time and I was finding everything really hard. The combination of three sports everyday was really challenging and there were a lot of tears! Psychologically I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone, left all my friends, job and security in London and it was hard. I wasn’t really enjoying it for the first couple of months, but I just stuck with it.
“I hadn’t swum for a long period of time so I saw improvements really quickly in the pool but until last January I’d never ridden a bike with clip-ins! The skills of riding in a group and riding on a wheel were all things I had to learn, but having the cycle track here in Leeds has been really good and I’ve been doing sessions on there every week, so I’m a lot more confident now.”
Keeping her cards close to her chest, it’s hard to imagine exactly what the 26 year old wants to achieve Down Under. On the one hand her new sport is still a bit of an unknown despite some impressive results, whilst she’s was fifth on the track four years ago.
“I haven’t really voiced my goals, but it’s going to be a busy few days with the Individual Triathlon on the 5th April, the Triathlon Relay on the 7th and the 10,000m on the 9th. I’m definitely aiming to do all three but the Triathlon is my priority. I’d love to make history and compete in both sports. I finished fifth at the last Games in the 10,000m and really surprised myself with that run, so who knows, you can’t put a limit on it.”
At the time of writing Potter is on a plane to Australia ahead of a Triathlon World Cup in Mooloolaba on 10th March, where she’ll get some last minute practice in her new sport. She’ll be the first Team Scotland athlete out there and will be among the first to enter the preparation camp on the Sunshine Coast in the middle of March.
“I do have family out in Australia though who I’m going to stay with first, and both my aunts are coming to watch. I also have a couple of Australian friends going and some friends from home too, so there will certainly be some good support. Let’s just hope the Australian crowd are as good as the Glaswegians!”