Tony Dodds boards a plane bound for Rio tomorrow from his base in Spain, heading to his first Olympic Games knowing that the hard work is very nearly done and it is time to put those many hours of swim, bike and run into the execution of a race plan in the men’s triathlon on August 18 at 11am local time.
The Wanaka native who these days is based at the Tri NZ High Performance base in Cambridge, says being away from the Games and the athlete village to this point has been a good thing.
“It definitely is, I would have loved to have been at the opening ceremony, that has long been a dream of mine but the closing will have to do. In some ways it is perfect be removed from it a little over here (in Spain), we don’t race for another week, it is good to be out of it and not see too much of the Olympics at the moment. I can keep the nerves calm for now, once we get there it will be a circus I’m sure.”
As well as doing the hard work in training, Dodds and others in the New Zealand triathlon team have been preparing carefully for the other challenges that an Olympic Games can bring.
“At the start of the year, Tim (coach Tim Brazier) and I sat down with Hamish Carter and he kept emphasizing that once we are there we will have a moment or two where it feels too much. We have a plan for each day down to the detail of when I will have a coffee with another athlete or coach, sometimes just to keep busy. The first day I will enjoy it and soak it up, but then it is all focus.”
Dodds says he feels in great shape with the majority of the hard work and tough sessions now complete, it is about the focus on details before race day.
“I don’t like too much of a taper, I like to keep the endurance up and keep the training ticking over, I don’t like to get bored. The big sessions are done though and we are happy with the way it has gone, I am in peak shape and everything is ticking along nicely.
“Last year in December we said it is one race we need to prepare for and there was only one way to do it with my injury, and that was to build into it gradually and right now it feels like we have done it perfectly, I haven’t been in this sort of shape for a long while, we are now looking to ensure that the travel, the taper and the Olympic environment is managed effectively.
“I have had Sam Ward and Dylan McNeice training with me in Font Romeo, it has been really good. For me personally I need everything in a line and to be happy and cruisy but I also need someone to push me - that was Sam on the big sessions, to be fast and push me. And then someone to keep me calm, someone who knows the ropes so Dylan has been with us as well because he has been around for a long time and knows me well, that worked out in the best possible way.”
Dodds has overcome a hip injury to qualify and race in Rio and acknowledges the team nature of a sport that is typically an individual effort once the race begins.
“Trust is a big part of those relationships, if I didn’t have that I would be here now. Tim was great, he kept me out of the loop on some things so I wouldn’t get caught up in it, he and physio Rone have worked together and done an amazing job, worked on a great plan and executed really well with the team at Tri NZ.”
Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, the story of Tony Dodds is typical of so many young New Zealanders who grow up with Olympic dreams. He has however found a need to switch off some of the ‘noise’ coming out of Rio to protect his own views of the Games.
“After a few days of the Games I decided to stay away from social media unless I was posting something myself. I felt like some of the comments were taking away from the Olympic spirit and the focus was on the negative and that was affecting me. For someone who has dreamed of one day competing at the Olympics I guess I don’t want it tarnished in any way or take that feeling away so I decided I didn’t want to see it or read it and focus instead on the positive aspects – to see athletes receiving medals and Cancellara winning the time trial and the joy that brought him, that is what I want the Games to be about.”
As for the race plan Dodds is not giving too much away, other than to say an athlete in his position must have more than a few bases covered as to how the race might play out.
“The only ones to put a race plan in will be the Brownlees and then we do the best we can and react to the way it is unfolding. We have prepared for anything to happen, nothing will be a surprise. It is the one race where you have to put it on the line and risk it all.”
Dodds will be joined in Rio by Ryan Sissons (Auckland), Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch) and Nicky Samuels (Wanaka/Cambridge) in the men’s and women’s triathlon events.Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Tony Dodds Ryan Sissons Andrea Hewitt Nicky Samuels Triathlon