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Olympic gold medalist Alex Yee on why he chose professional triathlon over athletics

Alex Yee reveals why he chose to pursue a career in triathlon over athletics.

Staff Reporter
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Having qualified to compete for Great Britain at a major games as a 20-year-old after winning the British 10,000m championships in a stunning time of 27:51, Alex Yee had a big decision to make in 2018.

At the time, the Londoner had only a handful of European Cup triathlon races under his belt and after a horrific crash in his World Triathlon Cup debut in 2017, was yet to make a big impact at the higher echelons of multi-sport racing.

Eventually choosing to follow the path of a career in professional triathlon over athletics, Yee raised more than a few eyebrows, but has since seen his perseverance and desire rewarded with a plethora of successes in the triathlon world.

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“That was the thing I loved to do”

Sitting down for a fantastic interview with Adam Leitch at Super League Triathlon, Yee recalled the decision and explained what motivated him to follow his dreams and passion for swim, bike and run.

Alex Yee wins SLT London 2023
[Photo Credit – Super League Triathlon]

“For me, I started out doing triathlon and that was the thing I loved to do. It’s where I’ve found so many of my good friends, my Dad did duathlon as well and so for me, it’s always been part of my DNA, it’s what I’ve always done.

“I’ve always woken up and I’ll always wake up and want to swim, bike and run and for me that’s fundamentally what I’ll always want to do and what I feel like my purpose is.” 

Asked if he’d now consider pursuing athletics in the future, Yee was undecided, stating that his immediate focus was on the Paris Olympic Games and beyond that, he didn’t know what would come next.

“It’s so hard to now whether that’s even feasible [switching to running]. We’ve seen other athletes do it after Olympic cycles so who knows?

“For me at the moment, I’m all in on Paris and that’s all my focus is on for the next six months, to make sure I cross that finish line and have that peace in my mind that I’ve done absolutely everything I could have done.” 

“I understand running”

Despite the success he has had in triathlon over the past couple of seasons, Yee said that it took a lot of hard work and patience, with the swim and bike in particular not coming as easy as running for the Brit.

“I understand running, I think you can see when other people understand swimming or understand biking and people can see when something comes naturally I think and for me, I’ve definitely had to work hard on the other two disciplines to marry them up to a similar level to the running.

“Starting the sport and going to my first few training sessions as a junior, after doing a couple of different sports growing up, triathlon felt like a challenge and it was what gave me some purpose and I wasn’t good at everything, but I wanted to be and I wanted to improve. I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself and not knowing if I could do something and just giving it a go.

“Triathlon has always been something that I’ve had to really stick at and commit to so I think it’s been rewarding in that sense to keep sticking at it and get to where I am now.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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