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Thu 21st Feb 2019
© British Triathlon
Scottish power: Grant Sheldon
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Thursday 12th December 2013

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Last week we published an interview with World Junior Triathlon Silver Medal winner Marc Austin. Well Scotland - and indeed, coach Blair Cartmell too - had two athletes on that same podium on Hyde Park in September, the bronze medal also being won by Marc's training partner Grant Sheldon.

Both based at Stirling University, both studying Mathematics and both proving to be very fast at swim-bike-run, in this second feature we meet up with Grant and find out how and injury impacted first half of the season didn't inspire confidence, and yet finished with a World Championship medal and an ITU World Cup podium. Both Marc and Grant have their sights set on joining David McNamee Scotland's Commonwealth Games squad in Glasgow next July, and are both progressing at a rate which suggest that is very realistic goal for their first season in the senior ranks.

You've finished off the year in some style Grant, but speaking to your coach Blair (Cartmell) he said that the start of the year was actually pretty tough for your in terms of injury issues. Tell us a bit more about that?

Yeh, I started the year as usual out in Spain for a bit of warm weather training and basically was pushing a little too hard for the time of the year. I ended up with a stress reaction in my shin, so the stage before it fractures. That meant I missed 2/3 months running, plus the other training was reduced to allow it to heal. It was a frustrating time; a lot of very dull sessions. As the season drew nearer I was getting worried about potentially missing the first half, but it turned out well in the end.

Was it tough during that initial part of the season watching your training buddy Marc training/racing so well and consistently? When did things get back on track for you, and the training and consistency back to hoped for levels?

To be honest, it helped watching Marc train and compete at the level he was. Sure, I wished I was doing it but it showed me what I could do when I returned as we have always been fairly even. The frustrating part was more just not being able to train. I started running two weeks before the qualifiers for Euro Junior Champs, which was the beginning of May. I raced well there considering and managed to qualify. From that point I improved very quickly, which was a strangely enjoyable process. It probably clicked mid July, when Blair let me run hard again!

Grant Sheldon ©British Triathlon

Ahead of the World Champs in London, after a sixth place in the European Champs did you feel that a medal was realistic? Talk us through your race – coming into the finish straight in contention for the win with Coninx and Marc (Austin), and clear of fourth must have been exciting?

A medal had been an aim of mine since the end of last season. The European Champs was a really good race for me but I don't think I believed I could until late June/July when I had a few more races under my belt. The race was all together until the run, when a group of 5/6 of us went to the front. I was sitting at the front of the group and didn't realize it was down to the 3 of us until near the end. Coninx attacked coming out of the last dead turn and perhaps I got it tactically wrong but it was an awesome feeling coming over the line all the same.

Your are based at Stirling University and training with the squad there – are you studying too? What's your degree in?

Yes I am studying Maths up here, same as Marc!

Grant Sheldon ©British Triathlon

At Stirling of course you train with fellow Scot and Silver medal winner in London, Marc Austin. Do you think having two of you so closely matched and pushing each other on has been a key to both of your performances this year? It seems to work for the Brownlee's of course…

I think it definitely has a part to play, we are constantly raising the standard that the other has to reach. We have been training together for a while and I think we understand each other quite well now in terms of when to really push each other and when we need to just focus on ourselves.

You finished the year in fine style with a podium in your first World Cup in Alicante. Were you surprised by your performance there? Do you think the longer distance (versus the Sprint of Junior races), works to your advantage.

Alicante was a nice way to end the season. I always had my plan that I'd be there with 5k to go on the run; that's what I knew I could do. From then on it was completely unknown. I think I was slightly surprised to have finished where I did and not suffer a few kilometers earlier. I think longer distances definitely suit me but watching the top of the sport, it is pretty much just a sprint race only twice as long. Hopefully we will see how I react to it next year.

Grant at Alicante World Cup ©Dario / ITU Media

Speaking to your coach Blair about you, he described you as "quiet, very determined… but with no fear factor", suggesting that in Alicante for example, the fact your were racing head-to-head with an Olympic medal winner wouldn't have been on your mind (and perhaps, not even knowing that fact!). How would you describe yourself…?!

Blair knows me very well! It was a little surreal to be honest. When you watch these guys on television you have this view of them on a pedestal but when you are rubbing shoulders with them, it's just another competitor. Perhaps there is a touch of ignorance while racing, I tend not to think too much.

In return (!), tell us a little about Blair and his input into your development, but also more generally about the set up in Stirling?

Blair has been my coach for the past 3/4 years, he has pretty much been responsible for tailoring my progression over the years. Since I came to Uni and we see each other daily it has been a lot more involved naturally. I learned pretty early on that its all about communication. He is in charge of quite a few athletes based up here along with Chris Volley. It is a really good group. We have all known each other for years now and get along really well. It is a pretty good atmosphere most of the time, just getting on with training and knowing when to push each other on, while having fun.

Grant Sheldon ©British Triathlon

After a post-season recovery, I'm guessing you are now back into the winter training regime prepping for 2014 – what have you been up to, and has that all been based in Scotland?

Yeh, back to it! We went up to Aviemore after everyone had their break for a bit of fun training - out on the mtb's and running up big hills. Then it has been all about gradually building back up. I am away to Fuerteventura next week with British Triathlon and then to Aguilas, Spain, after Christmas for a good block of training and some decent weather.

What are your goals for 2014 – with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is that a big attraction for you potentially?

The Commonwealth Games is the big one. The first time I went out on a road bike was round that park so it is a chance I definitely don't want to miss. Other than that, the focus is on World Under-23 champs and more generally progressing to senior racing. I think I'll make firmer goals nearer the time when I know a little more about the distance and how I'm doing though.

Anything else we should know about you?!

I don't think so, life is pretty much centered around this at the moment.

Grant Sheldon ©British Triathlon

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