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Vicky Holland talks challenges of balancing motherhood and top-level triathlon after Rome World Cup

A wonderfully open debrief on Rome race week from the British star

Staff Reporter
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Vicky Holland, who made her return to elite racing last weekend with an encouraging seventh place at World Triathlon Cup Tangier, didn’t quite have the follow-up she wanted on Saturday as she came home 23rd at World Triathlon Cup in Rome.

The Olympic bronze medalist, who travelled out to Italy with her family, also spoke after the race about the additional challenges which come with dividing her attention between her baby daughter Emmie and competing at the highest level during race week.

In a wonderfully candid and open Instagram post, Holland revealed the dilemmas she had faced, and spoke of her gratitude towards her husband and mother-in-law – who both came out to support her.

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Vicky Holland on Rome World Cup

Giving a quick overview of her race, Vicky said a tough swim put her in a difficult position getting onto the bike, and despite putting together a good run, she couldn’t get back to where she wanted to be.

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

“It would be easy to brush over yesterday but in the spirit of openness, I won’t! After a strong start to racing in Tangier, I was excited for Rome, but honestly I just fell short yesterday. A terrible swim and not quite quick enough through T1 and the first few hundred metres on the bike and that was the race gone up the road.

“I ran pretty well I think but that was only enough for 23rd after being so far down off the bike. So that’s one good race, one bad race and lots of learnings. I wouldn’t say I had any real expectations as such, I just didn’t think I would swim quite that badly!”

The challenges of race week

Comparing her race in Rome with that experience last weekend in Morocco, Holland talked in detail about the contrasting build-ups.

“This race felt completely different to Tangier in terms of preparation. Travelling out with family was both good and not so good. I loved having Emmie close by all the time, I never had to miss her, she always had me nearby if a cuddle or feed with mummy was what she needed/wanted and whether she knows it or not and she got to watch her mummy race.

“But I’ve never been at a race before where I felt as though my attention was so divided between racing and something else. How much time should I be spending with Emmie? How much of the things I normally take control of at home should I pass over to to someone else? Should I be carrying her pre-race, travelling with her in my arms and on my lap or again, let someone else? If she cries and reaches for me, do I allow someone else to comfort and settle her?

“No one ever said this way of racing was going to be easy, but I’m not sure I fully appreciated how challenging it would be going to a race with a baby. As a first attempt I think we did ok, and I’m so grateful to both Rhys Davey and my mother-in-law, Meriel, for making the trip with me so we could try this whole thing out.”

Vicky underlined that this would be a learning experience for future races, and added that having her daughter and family out on the race course also made it a very special occasion.

“Lots to think about for future races, but one final positive to add is that having Emmie there really did add a layer of perspective. Racing won’t always go smoothly for anyone, but having my baby there to smile at me and cuddle no matter the result, was incredibly special!”

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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