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Insidetri.com Greg Bennett interview

A few thoughts on the latest insidetri.com interview with Greg Bennett: While in the interview he has a good answer to Tim’s question of why suddenly get focused on Olympics, all of last year it seemed like he had decided to move on beyond ITU and focus on Lifetime. This is certainly not a criticism – Bennett is my favorite triathlete from 2007 and has been super nice in letting me interview him – but it’s just to point out that he must have changed his mind as 2007 wore on. And what was that change? Frankly I think a big component was that he decimated not once or twice, but 5 times stellar fields across the five biggest non-drafting Olympic races in our sport (ok St. Anthony’s rounds out top 6). Simply put, after Laura won her slot at the Des Moines HyVee and he won the U.S. Open in Dallas, I think Greg would have been crazy NOT to think of the Olympics. He is very methodical in his training (I have yet to hear of any other triathlete have four year plans!) and has been gearing himself up and Laura for 2008. Maybe he was planning the whole time on trying to get to Beijing, but I think it was more that he had such huge success in 2007 that earned him more “race respect” from the Australian selection committee. In the 2007 competitorradio.com interview he mentioned that it’d be nice to have an Olympics where only one of them was the focus, but obviously they can handle racing the same day so that should be no problem.

Do I think he can handle Javier Gomez? You betcha. He has proven time and time again that he can come from behind on the swim, bike up to the front in non-drafting, and the run lights out. If he can stick within a few seconds of the front swimmers, then catch up on the bike with a pack (during which he will exert less effort than a normal non-draft), he will come into the run more fresh than normal. Then it comes down to guts for glory – and I would certainly not bet against a man that could cement his stand as one of the best olympic distance triathletes ever.

For my video interviews at the 2007 Chicago Triathlon go here for pre-race day ch. 1 & ch. 2. And pre-race in transition area.

Does Greg think he can handle Javier? Read below…
Q&A with Greg Bennett after selection to his second Australian Olympic team
Greg and Laura Bennett join the exclusive ranks of husband-wife Olympians
By Timothy Carlson – IT Senior Correspondent
Posted Apr. 16, 2008

With a 5th place at the Mooloolaba World Cup, Australia’s Greg Bennett convinced Triathlon Australia selectors that he was the best man for the third and final Australian men’s 2008 Olympic Triathlon team. Although three-time ITU World Champion Peter Robertson had a strong 4th place last Sunday in Ishigaki, Japan, a variety of factors led TA national coach Bill Davoren and his staff to pick the man who finished 4th at the 2004 Olympics and won $500,000 for running the table at the U.S.’s 2007 Life Time Fitness series over Robbo, Australia’s long-running all-or-nothing thrill show who either pulls off miracles or blows up. For despite Robertson’s thrilling World Championships wins in 2001, 2003 and 2005, and silvers in 2000 and 2002, the larrikin express broke down in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and suffered through injury plagued ITU World Cup seasons in 2006 and 2007. Bennett, on the other hand, rose to ITU World number one for more than a year in the early part of this decade and has remained one of the fastest runners in the sport and most reliable elite competitors anywhere.

Inside Triathlon: Not long ago it seemed as if you had resigned yourself to abandon hope for any further Olympic appearances. What changed?

Greg Bennett: It wasn’t that I gave up on my Olympic ambitions only that the priority this time was to make sure Laura got her start at the Games. Once she had qualified first for the USA team that gave me some breathing room to see if I could impress the selectors. While we focused on Laura’s ambitions of making the team I focused on helping her and my racing in the States. The Life Time Fitness series is still very much important to me and the Olympic Games will fall right in the middle of the series so I know I will be in good shape.

IT: Did Triathlon Australia officials coaches contact you and urge you to try again?

GB: Once I mentioned to them I was interested (in Olympic selection for 2008) they informed me that I needed to race a few World Cups. I told them I would not race a lot of events, but that I would race Mooloolaba in March and show them my fitness. I also mentioned that I would not be in peak shape in March but would build for my race season from June to October.

IT: What did they say were their criteria?

GB: The criteria were not only to look at the last year or even last 2 years but to look at an athlete’s performances for the last 4-5 years. The criteria would look at how an athlete would fit into the team — and even, if needed, how to play a role in the race itself. The list of criteria the selectors looked at was long and extensive and gave the selectors the freedom to nominate the best team to try to win gold at the Games.

IT: Do you think your great year in non-drafting races in the 2007 Life Time series
have any impact to any sort of welcoming feeling you got from TA — if any?

GB: I don’t really know what the selectors were saying around the table at the meeting. The Life Time series may have helped or it may have hurt for the fact I missed so many World Cups and last year’s World Championships. The fact is I have absolutely no regrets for racing the Life Time Fitness series… a series I believe is only going to get bigger and better in future year for both professionals and amateurs alike.

IT: I am guessing – I do not know — that they were measuring performances in
the first three World Cups of the year – Mooloolaba, New Plymouth, Ishigaki. How did you limit your world cup races to one?

GB: As I mentioned above the selection criteria was based on a long extensive list. That led to a welcome freedom of selection. It isn’t one race or two races. They are able to look across the board at who will work best for the country in the sport of triathlon.

IT: I guess Mooloolaba counted most because the field was strongest. Therefore, Robbo’s 4th place – one spot better than your 5th — counted less. Do you think that was true?

GB: These three events were simply a guide. They were by no means the only criteria for selection. I am sure they weighed myself and Robbo up against each other over a long period of time. He is a fantastic athlete and has proven he can do amazing things.

IT: Do you suppose your clutch almost-a-medal performance in Athens weighed on the decision?

GB: I’m sure it helped.

IT: Or was it your consistent high finishes in your occasional forays on the World Cup circuit?

GB: These would have helped as well.

IT: Were you counting on supporting (your wife) Laura (who made the U.S, Olympic team last September) in Beijing? Will this get in the way of that at all?

GB: Not at all… in fact I think it works even better. I was committed of course to the Olympics with Laura but both being in only increases our focus as a team into the Games. We have worked together for years into major competitions and to be honest I believe we work better together when we are both striving for perfection.

IT: Laura said that you both were happy her 4th place and your 5th place finishes early in the season at Mooloolaba. In the long run, is this better than coming out with your best race so early?

GB: We were over the moon with our performances at Mooloolaba. We had just finished our conditioning phase and neither one of us was looking forward to the intensity of racing. To handle the threshold of the race and still be in the game was very pleasing.

IT: Can you beat Javier Gomez in Beijing?

GB: Of course. I believe everyone is beatable with the right preparation. Javier is obviously the Man who has the gold medal to lose and I know (he) is focused on making sure he doesn’t. Laura and I both love to race and the bigger the event more we love it… so we plan to both put on a good show!

IT: Will this interrupt your effort to defend your Life Time Fitness titles?

GB: Not at all. Minneapolis and New York in July sit perfectly between World Championships, Des Moines in June and the Olympics in August. Following the games I will hit Chicago, LA and Dallas. My season is between June and October and the Olympics being in August sit right in the middle of my season.

IT: Congratulations to you and Laura!

GB: Thanks!


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April 23, 2008 at 12:26 pm
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