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Meet Gold Medal Yorkshire-Born Triathlete Jess Learmonth

Meet Gold Medal Yorkshire-Born Triathlete Jess Learmonth VSP Images
June 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Recently named as the new ambassador for Aqua Pura, Yorkshire-born triathlete Jess had a meteoric rise in the sport and only began to train for the triathlon four years before achieving Olympic gold

Ahead of Paris 2024, Living North catches up with Jess to see how training is going.

It seems the standard story for Olympians is that they begin their sport in their teens (or younger) before realising their potential. Not so for Jess. ‘I started the sport when I was 24,’ she says. ‘As a bit of a challenge for myself I took part in a charity triathlon and discovered I was quite good and so took part in a few more events locally. I kept entering bigger events and found myself at European level, and then was accepted onto the British Triathlon’s world-class performance programme in 2015 and happily found myself as part of the Olympic squad in the Tokyo Olympics, where I won gold in the mixed relay team’.

Jess’s speedy rise is not lost on her. ‘My sporting career has been a total whirlwind so far, in just a few years I’ve gone from a charity triathlon to representing my country and winning gold at an Olympics!’ she laughs.

© Ryan Sosna Bowd © Ryan Sosna Bowd

In preparation for Paris 2024, Jess’s typical day to day is hectic to say the least, balancing parenting and intensive training. ‘I swim in the morning very early while John looks after Frederick and then I’m back by 8am so he can start work. Then I look after Fred, give him some breakfast, pop him down for a nap and my family come and help me look after him so I can hit the turbo for a few hours in the gym at the end of my garden. Then it’s lunchtime and I have more time with Fred, feeding and playing with him and in the evening I’m back in the gym or out for a run,’ she explains. ‘There’s not really any free time to speak of and life’s all about training and family right now, so it is full-on and very hectic, but so enjoyable I have to say.’

We’re exhausted just reading that, but Jess clearly has no intention of taking it easy. ‘Having given birth just six months ago, getting back into training was going to be a big ask. Then I picked up a calf injury at the start of the year and a big race in March was cancelled so the Paris Olympics is looking like a stretch,’ she says. ‘That said, I’m focused on races coming up in May, I’m highly motivated and very excited to be back into racing, which is such a great feeling because I wasn’t sure how I would feel after giving birth. I wasn’t sure what my mindset would be because it’s such a massive life change. There’s no doubt I’ve had to find a way to make everything work – which is a juggle – but I’m more determined than ever.’

Being a new mother has certainly changed Jess’s perspective. ‘Because I came into the sport late, I think I always appreciated everything. I didn’t get too nervous and it was such a bonus to be living this life as an elite athlete and that’s only increased now I have Fred,’ she says. ‘If I have bad sessions, or things don’t pan out, I’m still happy because I get to go home to him, and I probably wouldn’t have understood how to have that perspective until I had Fred. I’m still very motivated but I’ve got this calmer, happier outlook and appreciation of the bigger picture.’

‘I’ve also had to learn to be very adaptable. Before becoming a mum, I could control everything about my day but now my life must fit around family and Fred’s schedule must take priority, but it’s like I have this second wind of being an athlete. I’m learning all over again how to make it work, I’m enjoying it more and really happy to be living this life.’

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