Triathlon rising star Mathias utilising past experiences en route to the top

Yahoo Sport UK
Welsh star Olivia Mathias has her sights set on a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics © Ben Lumley
Welsh star Olivia Mathias has her sights set on a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics © Ben Lumley

From Russia to the Gold Coast, Olivia Mathias is certainly no stranger to the big stage as she embarks on her fledgling triathlon career.

The precocious 21-year-old has already enjoyed a glimpse of what performing at the highest level looks like, flying the flag for Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before clinching silver at the U23 World Championships in Lausanne last summer.

But it all started for the Newark-born athlete in the west Russian city of Penza, travelling to one of her maiden international events as a 15-year-old in 2014 and going home with the gold medal after a searing performance in the women's relay.

While Mathias’ steep rise suggests she is destined for triathlon greatness, she never forgets her roots and where her burgeoning journey began.

“Russia was quite an interesting experience!” she recalled.

“We went during a period where there was a political dispute with Ukraine, so everyone was on really high alert, it was quite weird.

“But I don’t think that really put me off my racing – once you’re at the start you don’t really focus on what’s going on, so it’s fine.

“It was all pretty cool though – I went with two of my closest friends, Sophie Alden and Kate Waugh, who I’m still really close to now.

“It was only our first time as a team, so we didn’t really have any expectations or anything, and we just went into the race and wanted to enjoy it.

“We ended up winning, we had no idea how it happened, but it was pretty cool for us to experience.”

Mathias returned from Russia with love, climbing the triathlon ladder over the following four years to qualify for the Welsh mixed relay team on the Gold Coast.

But while Wales were unable to secure themselves a place on the Commonwealth podium – they finished in sixth as home favourites Australia romped to victory – the taste of competing at such a high level is one the ambitious young star knows served her well.

Coupled with her silver medal at last year’s U23 World Championships in the mixed relay alongside boyfriend Alex Yee, Mathias hopes her experiences will form the start of her journey and she has headed back to Australia for a training camp.

“The Commonwealth Games were a crazy experience – staying in the athletes’ village and seeing all your sporting heroes from when you were younger was incredible,” she added.

“I was just like ‘Oh my goodness, what do I do?’ Australia is so nice, and it's great to have been able to go back there for the training camp.

“But my biggest achievement was coming second at the U23 Worlds – it was quite special as loads of my family came out to watch and I got to race with Alex.

“It was quite cool being there with Alex because we’d never raced in a relay before, so to win and be able to celebrate with my family and friends was special.

“The Olympics in Tokyo this year are a bit too soon. Hopefully the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and then the Paris Olympics in 2024 can happen for me if everything goes to plan.”

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