Defending champion Sara Perez Sala is ready for a tough test at The Championship this weekend, as the Spaniard looks to repeat a similar performance to the one which saw her clinch the title in 2022.
With water temperatures threatening to cancel the swim or at the very least significantly shorten it, Sala is one of the athletes who stands to lose out in this scenario, but the PTO World #20 is sticking to focusing on what she can control.
In a pre-race interview, Sala shared her thoughts on the race this weekend, the strength in depth in the women’s field and why she keeps coming back to the Challenge events.
“I don’t know what to expect this weekend”
Despite being in good spirits ahead of Sunday’s race, Sala revealed that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing since the PTO European Open in Ibiza, with some lingering fatigue following her to Slovakia.
“I am feeling very good and very happy, but over the last few weeks since Ibiza, recovery has been slow and I’ve been feeling really tired, so I don’t know what to expect this weekend.”
The Spaniard added that she expects the racing at The Championship to be hard from the gun and having raced here before, knows that each discipline presents its own challenge.
“This race is a hard race because the weather conditions are hard, it is very windy here, the water is always cold and this year especially it’s extra cold.
“The swim is okay, the bike is very fast and hard and then the run is completely different from other races because you are on a number of different terrains which makes it tough.”
UK girls significant threats
Discussing the world-class field assembled in Samorin, Sala highlighted the British women on the start list, including rising star Lucy Byram, as the athletes to watch out for.
“The women’s field is very strong, especially from the UK. Lucy [Byram] is a young girl, she is a very good triathlete, and maybe the proposed duathlon with no swimming will be better for her. Fenella [Langridge] is also always dangerous and some of the other girls are very good runners.
“I think this situation [a shortened swim], for some of the stronger swimmers like Fenella, India Lee and me, might be worse, so we will just have to work very hard on the bike to get a gap for the run course.”
Staying relaxed the key
With all things considered, it would be understandable if Sala felt the odds were stacked against her this weekend, but the Spaniard remains resilient and is adamant that she will only worry about the factors within her control.
“My plan is to just stay relaxed and focused. I will only worry about what I can control and not worry about the things that are out of my control.”
Having also finished second here in 2021, Sala shared that the atmosphere and support that Challenge provides for the athletes is the reason she keeps coming back every year.
“For Challenge, the athletes are very important and I feel very good about that. I feel like with them I am important, and I am a star in the sport, so it is easy to race with them and it is also fun.”