Rio 2016, Paratriathlon made its debut and I was going into the race as 2x World Champion and one of the favourites to claim the gold. Somehow on race day I managed to navigate the wrong way, missing a yellow buoy. I can remember the safety kayaks stopping me and redirecting me. I looked to my left and 50m away the rest of the field were equal to me but on the right course! I managed to sprint and get back into 2nd by the end of the 750m. I worked hard on the bike trying to pull away but the American just responded to my every move- she knew if she was within 30 secs of me she could pull ahead on the run and I had given everything in my tank to making up on the swim. I had such mixed emotions crossing the finish line in second position. Proud to be a medallist, but absolutely gutted to have missed out on the gold because of my own mistake.
I really lost the love of my sport for many months post Rio. I didn’t touch my trainers, my bike collected dust and I had no motivation to get back to it. I gradually learnt to be kinder to myself, patient in the process of coming back and started working with a new coach who had known me since school. That was just 6 weeks out from Europeans and I somehow managed to get my fitness back to the level I needed to take the win but came second in the World Champs that year. But it had done the job and gave me back some fire and desire to be the best! I had a great, steady training block in 2018, I was getting stronger and stronger, winning the smaller races and making myself proud. World Championships 2018 were in the Gold Coast. I ran down the final leg with over a minute lead, tears in my eyes and proof that you are not defined by your mistakes, but how you overcome them.
Eloise du Luart.
In March 2016, in the midst of training for what I hoped would become my first season as a professional triathlete, I was diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture. The doctor warned me of the complications associated with this injury and the possibility of never fully recovering. I was also told this injury directly correlates with overtraining and weak bones from a lack of menstruation, which I had been suffering from for 8 years prior. The key to even the smallest chance of recovery was regaining full health and changing my training practises – no excuses.
This injury was a turning point for me in not only understanding the importance of getting the fundamentals right; day-to-day nutrition, recovery, basic health etc., but also what I have always wanted from sport – the love of the game, and the personal competition to be better. I had lost sight of that and put my health at risk as a result. Just 6 weeks after getting back into training I got a big, new FTP, this was all I needed to see that rest and having a healthy body will have a positive effect on performance.
In 3 months I was able to do a sprint triathlon. This gave me the belief that a full recovery could be possible if I stick to what I have learnt works for me, and just follow the path I need to follow.
It was towards the end of the 2019 season, at the start of September, I had a racing crash which forced me to miss a few days of training. The main problem was that I was already massively overtrained as I’d been racing up to 5 times a week nearly every week since February. It was the right time to end the season, but I had one more race, London 6 Day (U21 Cup).
I worked with my coach to build a plan to manage the fatigue whilst building fitness back up. It was a pretty frustrating time, I remember doing hill reps with my mates and getting dropped. I did a circuit race the week before and got dropped on a circuit I’d never finished outside the top 10 on. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to perform at the level I wanted to. London 6 Day was just 3 days of racing in our category. The first 2 days were ok, we stayed on the same lap as the leaders, but were still down in 7th on points. The final day, half way into the race we made an aggressive attack, which we managed to build on and take a lap as the crowd and commentator cheered. It was a pretty awesome moment, and it propelled us to 2nd overall. It was an epic race for us made even better by the fact that I was considering pulling out a week before.
In October 2019 I had a defence of my IBO 154lb World Title in Malta. I’d made history earlier that year by becoming Scotland’s 1st ever female Boxing World Champion and I now had an opportunity to defend it. Throughout training camp I worked on a particular game plan and was feeling good physically in the lead up to the fight. Looking back, I now see that mentally I was struggling. In boxing they say, “leave personal problems outside the ring else they will affect your performance.” This turned out to be true and it did just that. I rushed the beginning of the fight and got dropped in the first round which left me 2 points down. The knock compromised my performance and although it was a close fight, I ultimately lost my world title by one point.
I was devastated. I felt like all my hard work was wasted, all because I rushed and didn’t follow the plan. I lost support, sponsors and the following months were incredibly difficult. I will always thank my coach Noel Callan for being there through that dark time and for his never-ending belief in me as a fighter. Our main focus was to get back into that ring and prove to myself and anyone that doubted me that I belonged there. We worked hard through Christmas and the New Year; completely cutting everyone and everything else out so I could completely focus and prepare. In February I got my chance. I fought a former world champion Eva Bajik on a show in Scotland and it all fell into place. I was calm, I didn’t rush and I was completely focused. I dropped her three times before the referee stopped the fight at the beginning of the 3rd round. I was back with a bang! Stronger mentally and physically and ready to work my way back to World Champion because that’s where I know I belong.
It took a long time for me to seek help when I was younger, struggling with depression and self-harm for numerous years never really solving the issue. I’d dabbled in and out of competitive sport up until late teens/early twenties when I became a bit of a workaholic and decided sport wasn’t for me anymore. I’d reached my ‘peak’ in swimming and achieved all I could. Looking back, this is the worst decision I could have made, I threw myself into work more than I already was and at the time, in a very stressful job. This triggered my worst relapse in 2016. Overall, my lowest point and plagued with suicidal thoughts. My boyfriend at the time (now fiancé) paid for me to get support privately, which I’m forever grateful for, but I think the key to my recovery was me accepting I needed some help.
It wasn’t a quick and easy fix, depression and self-harm had manifested for years and to this day 4 years later it can be hard to not fall into those places when triggered. Re-discovering sport was a big phase of my recovery, realising I just needed to change sport/goals, not give up! Along came triathlon and endurance swimming. This change in my life was huge and has made me who I am today. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come and I’m proud of what both my mind and body has overcome and achieved. I wear my scars in the open and I’m very passionate about talking to others and ensuring they know they’re not alone. It gets better, it gets easier, you just need to find your key, make a change and most importantly, don’t give up.
Everyone experiences setbacks. The greatest achievement is learning to deal with it. To come back stronger. It’s all about mindset! In Oct 2013 I was training for the Heptathlon and hoping to be selected to represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games the following year. If successful, it would be my first ever major champs.
I was cycling from training to work one day when two girls walked straight into the road. I slammed on my breaks, flew over my handle bars and landed on my knee! I managed to get up and dust myself off. Cars drove past. No one stopped to help. The girls just laughed and I was shocked and embarrassed. Pumped with adrenaline, I jumped on my bike and got to work. Once I’d calmed down I realised how much pain I was in. Over a month later I was finally diagnosed. I had shifted my shin back, strained my PCL and everything around my knee had been stretched so my knee was just hanging loose. I had no stability and that was just my knee! I trained my butt off during rehab. The stuff I had to do was horrific. I would be close to tears everyday, having to push myself to the extreme.
After 5 months things were looking a lot better and I went on a training camp. First session was shot put. First throw and I followed through out of the throwing circle… who knew there was a ledge around it? I rolled my ankle so badly, the doctors thought I’d broken it. SURELY NOT! Someone does not want me at the Commonwealth Games!! With the swelling and bruising going half way up my leg, I still managed to strap it up and get some training done. My next 3 heptathlons were in torrential rain and strong winds! How could I be so unlucky? I’d worked so hard, overcome so many knock backs and stayed mentally strong throughout, picking myself up again and again because I knew how much I wanted it! I’d done everything I possibly could, but it just wasn’t good enough.
Then I received a call from England Athletics inviting me to compete at the CWG and off I went to compete for my country! It was the most amazing experience and will remember it forever. From walking out for my first event, to running down the home straight of the 800m and hearing the crowd roar. It is something I will never forget.
Never give up your dreams!
After leaving the sport completely in 2017 to become a primary school teacher, I knew it would be a mental and physical battle to get myself back on the start line again. After joining a new training group under a new coach, I have had two very successful seasons in the 400m and 400m hurdles and have come back a much stronger athlete than before, improving my personal bests significantly and becoming a British Champion earlier this year – something I could never have imagined happening in 2017!
Once you think you know it all. That’s when you expose yourself to a loss. And that’s what happened with me at the Commonwealth Games.
I hated it. I hate losing. I knew I needed to capture that anger. Seal it up and put it in a bottle, instead of releasing it all there.
You end up pushing your body and your mind further because you become obsessed by this one goal of becoming faster.
Lisa Klein of Canyon//SRAM.
In 2018 I was hit by a car while out training and I broke my left collarbone. It was the third time on that side. I suffered quite a lot mentally after that crash and I really doubted my sport and the risks that go with it. My passion for cycling was affected and I considered to stop all together.
I had some time off and it wasn’t until I had two months of returning to racing that I really knew and had no doubt that I wanted to continue. I became even more determined than before.
I’ve since won the GC in two stage races and the TTT World Championships with CANYON//SRAM, as well two medals at track world championships for Germany. I’m so satisfied with my decision to keep with professional cycling.