Challenge Penticton caught up with Great Britain aquathlete Yiannis Christodoulou for an athlete spotlight.
Challenge Penticton: How did you get into Aquathlons?
I first started running in 2012 and after watching the Olympics. I was inspired to try a triathlon after running was not challenging enough. Last year I was in the process of buying a house and getting married but didn’t have the time to train for the triathlons so I decided to go into Aquathlons as they are my strong points. I have been doing Aquathlons for just over a year now. I competed my first race on July 5/15.
CP: Have you done any long distance events before?
My longest race was a marathon, which I competed in this year at Manchester. It was a disaster as so many things went wrong on the day. My longest Aquathlon was 1,000 metre swim followed by a 10-km run, so not that far. I have competed in quite a few half marathons.
CP: Which is your favourite discipline and why?
With the Aquathlon I actually like both disciplines. My running is a lot stronger, but I see the swimming as damage limitation and when I am on the run it’s when I am able to really push it and push people. I enjoy the feeling when I get on the run, knowing I am going to catch people.
CP: What is the greatest challenge you have overcome or been faced with during your training/racing?
The greatest challenge is currently at the moment, I was third in the National Aquathlon championships and third in the European Aquathlon championships in June. However, after a great month, it is difficult to get motivated in local races. My form has dipped a bit and I have changed my training up as a result. However, I am competing in the World Championships in Mexico in September so that has motivated me to keep pushing.
A few years back I injured my achilles which ended up being a serious injury that I thought I would never be able to run again. I was out for nearly four months, but in that time I kept positive and therefore was able to come back stronger. I kept saying in my head “I will be back” and I think that helped.
CP: What is your greatest accomplishment in Aquathlons?
This year has been amazing; third in the European championships has to be my best accomplishment. I never expected it and I had to run very hard. I had to sprint the last 400-m to go past two people. I seemed to find something that day I never had before. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. I would tell people to keep pushing until the finish.
CP: What keeps you motivated when training/racing gets tough?
Looking back what I have achieved. I just want to try my best and keep improving. Improvement helps me get motivated and I change up my training each week.
CP: Who, in the triathlon community, inspires you?
It has to be Gwen Jorgensen, watching her this year has really inspired me. I like the way she attacks the run and destroys the field to win. This inspires me in my races.
CP: Tell us about your story.
Well I am no spring chicken and nearly 33. I only started running in 2012. I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to do something, which ended up with me joining my local running club, Canterbury Harriers. I didn’t train that regularly until the following year so progress wasn’t quick. I knew if I practiced I could be a lot better and ended up doing that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. The following year saw me competing in local triathlons but I ended up injuring my calf, I struggled for seven months on and off so I became a coach for my club. The following year I competed again in triathlons but injured my achilles and thought I wouldn’t be able to run again. I managed to overcome this and come back slowly which saw me (get personal bests) in every running race I took part in for a year. I think there was 18 PB’s and a course record, which I am very proud of. I like to help others and whenever I train and see people doing what I love I help them. As mentioned before I moved to Aquathlons, I am pretty nervous to get on the bike sometimes because it caused me injuries in the past. I qualified last year for the GB Aquathlon squad and from there I went on to come third in the National and European Championships. It is something I am over the moon about and cannot believe happened. I am very much looking forward to the Worlds in September and next year’s European race which I have an automatic entry for.
CP: What is a piece of advice you’d give to a new triathlete?
My advice would be to keep training, don’t over train and make sure you get your rest days in each week. Always believe in yourself and put the work in during training and you will be rewarded and can achieve great things.
If anyone wants help or a chat please contact me on Twitter Yiannis_83. I am always willing to help others.
Profile is courtesy of Challenge Penticton. The aquathlon race will take place on Aug.25 at 4 p.m.