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Olympic bronze medalist opens up about balancing arthritis with motherhood and triathlon

Vicky Holland opens up about dealing with her rheumatoid arthritis.

Staff Reporter
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Whilst Vicky Holland may have made things look easy with a string of great World Triathlon Cup performances in her return to triathlon last year, the 38-year-old revealed it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

Having to juggle elite sport whilst being a new mother is challenging enough, but on top of that, the Gloucester native shared that just staying healthy has been particularly challenging over the past few months.

The 2018 World Champion, who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, explained in a detailed post on social media how managing the different dimensions of her life has been an especially tough balancing act recently.

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“My health has been terrible”

Looking back at last season after a successful training camp in Portugal to kick off 2024, Holland recalled how she had to race through sickness on more than one occasion in 2023.

Vicky Holland third place World Triathlon Cup Vina del Mar 2023 Photo credit: World Triathlon / Wagner Araujo
[Photo credit: World Triathlon / Wagner Araujo]

“Since I started ramping up training and heading away racing late last year, my health has been terrible. The medication I’m on for my Rheumatoid Arthritis suppresses my immune system and my last two races I travelled (long haul) and raced through illness.

“Nasty, lingering colds and a persistent mucus on my chest probably aren’t performance enhancing. Honestly, it makes me even more pleased with my racing knowing my health status.”

As Holland says, the fact that she was sick highlights how great her performances were last year, especially when you consider that she still managed to round out the year with a third place finish at the World Triathlon Cup in Vina del Mar.

Staying in good health is the “biggest challenge”

With such a crucial period coming up if Holland wants to make the team for the Paris Olympic Games, the three-time Olympian knows the challenges she will face balancing training, being a mum and managing her health.

World Triathlon Cup Tangier 2023 - Elite Women - Vicky Holland
Photo Credit: World Triathlon / @by_wout

“It’s an extra dimension that we have to balance now with training and recovery. It was always going to be more challenging now that my downtime is less naps or sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, more making sure Emmie doesn’t seriously injure herself every two seconds.

“With the addition of an auto immune disease and immune suppressant medication, trying to stay healthy and string blocks of training together has become my biggest challenge.

“For January, it’s a balance we’ve gotten right – by good luck or good judgement I’m not sure, so here’s hoping I can keep the streak into February too!”

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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