Having experienced the magic of a home Olympic Games, albeit under the restrictions of Covid-19 measures, Kenji Nener could be forgiven for not having the same level of excitement for the pinnacle of the current Olympiad.
However, speaking with TRI247 as he finalises his preparations for the next crucial stage of the qualification period, the Asian Games champion said that he expects the event in Paris to be incredible.
Having finished 14th in Tokyo three years ago, the 30-year-old Perth-born pro will be one to watch if he makes the start line, but revealed the first step is to secure selection to a highly competitive Japanese team.
“Paris is going to be amazing”
Reflecting on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Nener said it was an experience like no other, but added that he has high expectations for this year’s event in one of the world’s most iconic cities.
“A home Olympics is a dream for any athlete, and I was lucky to experience it as my first Olympics. Fortunately for triathlon, despite COVID-19, there were many people cheering along the road-side which gave me a lot of strength.
“Life in the Athlete Village was difficult because of COVID-19 but the Japanese organisers did a great job under the circumstances.
“Of course, Paris, is going to be amazing. I couldn’t name a more iconic triathlon course, truly a privilege. Though admittedly I am yet to tick off the selection criteria.”
To meet that selection criteria, Nener has a busy schedule in the coming months, with each race a stepping stone to the ultimate goal in Paris.
“My season will start with Abu Dhabi WTCS followed by Hong Kong World Cup, Asian Championships and Yokohama WTCS.
“My race planning will not change drastically from normal, but the training blocks will always have specificity around delivering the best result in Paris; training will not necessarily be catered for the specifics of the upcoming race.”
“Belief in my ability” key for Olympic success
Asked what it will take to close the gap to the best in the sport having finished last season in WTCS #15, Nener said it was all about belief.
“Belief in my ability.Not being afraid to rest when needed, especially when tapering for races and implementing more focus on running.”
Specifically for race day in Paris, Nener said to get the result he wants, he needs a mix of confidence and faith, with a good swim-bike combo key.
“[It will take] confidence on the start line. A good swim, preferably a small gap off of the bike (in the front group of 15 or so) and trusting my run ability.”