Michelle Dillon (Hayes)
She is legend. In the early 2000’s if you were racing ITU she was a name you feared. This Brits strong bike/run combo was lethal against the American greats. Unfortunately her career was cut short due to back injuries and she did not leave triathlon she started developing the future of GB in triathlon. I am proud to welcome a good friend of mine, Michelle Dillon.
Andrew – Michelle, you are very accomplished athlete and coach. Team Dillon is your current project and to say the least it has bloomed nicely over the last 3 years. You are one of the most decorated females in GB history, what is your fondest racing memory? What is your fondest training memories?
Michelle – Hi Andy, Thank you for interviewing me today. Yes Team Dillon Coaching has been up and running now since late 2008 and I am really pleased how it has progressed. We now have 8 coaches working under the brand and have 70+ Age Group athletes working with us as well. There are also some very established Elite athletes that I personally work with and I am very excited about what is ahead in 2013. My fondest racing memory would have to be winning Noosa World Cup in 1999 as this was the first time I won WC and it was only my 2nd year as a Triathlete. I will never forget that day as I beat some of the best in the World and couldn’t take the smile off my face.
My best training memories would have to be when I was injury free, unfortunately that wasn’t very often but one time that stands out was training in Florida for the World Champs ahead of Cancun 2002 before I finished 3rd because my swimming was going so well and I cracked 5mins for 400m in training in a 50m pool for the first time! I knew I could swim in the pack at that point and did just that in Cancun when winning the Bronze medal.
What is your favourite race as I know we always meet up at St Anthony’s each year so am I right in thinking St A’s is one of your favourite?
Andrew – I like St Anthony’s because it is the opening of the Olympic distance season. It is the proving ground for 16 weeks of winter training. Chicago is really my true favorite. It is home, flat, windy, and the crowd is very favorable. For the half distance I love Rev3 Quassy. It is a relentless course with a strong field.
Swimming was your Achilles to your race. What were some key things that you learned or did to really improve your swimming? What kept your confidence up when you came out of the water after a tough swim?
Michelle – Yes my swimming was up and down and I although I had some poor swims I also had some great ones as well. The problem was I started swimming far too late in life and at 23 years of age it was a bit late to ever make a massive impact and be consistently in the front pack. I had to work hard in the pool to keep my swimming at a good level. I used a lot of band and paddles and this helped me improve my strength. Luckily for me I was a fast runner and could hold my own on the bike so coming out on my own wouldn’t phase me too much, I just had to hold my head together and push hard to get myself back in the race. I guess I a lot of people in my position would have given up, but once I showed myself I can still win a race from coming out the water last, I kept the faith and won many races like this. Thank goodness my I have good mental strength! LOL
I know in the past your running has been your weakness, have you improved that this year because you usually get off the bike first and I’d love to see you stay away from those guys behind you?
Andrew – Just like you expressed above, when you get a late start on a sport you are always playing catch up. Fortunately and unfortunately the run is last in triathlon. Fortunately because with my strength on the swim and bike I get to lead at the worlds premier races. Unfortunately because when you are physically and mentally tired form breaks down very quickly and once the form goes you are just trying to muscle through. Every year my 10K has improved by a few seconds a mile. Some years 3 seconds some years 10 seconds but the key is every year I have gotten faster. I am now running 1/2 marathons at the same pace I ran 10K’s in 4 years ago.
Everybody is always talking about how the sport is getting faster and faster. Sizing up the competition this year, how would a Michelle Dillon in her prime done in the WTS and Olympics? Wins, podiums…
Michelle – The sport has gone through many changes, when I was racing there were the likes of Barb Lindquist, Nicole Hackett, Loretta Harrop and Sheila Taormina who were all very fast swimmers so they put the pace down from the start. It was tough for me being a non-swimmer coming into the sport. However my best swims I was 40-45sec behind these women out of the water and could still sometimes pull a win out from there. These women could bike as well as they knew there run was there weakness. Now days the swim is much more one big pack and some of the women I used to come out with are coming out in that pack, so if I had of kept swimming then you never know I would have probably been in there with them. The more years of swimming under your belt the better. The bike I feel has not got any faster, I think these days if anything has got faster it’s the run, not actual times but more how many women can run sub 35mins for 10km. When I was racing there were only a few that could run this, in today’s sport there are a few more, making it a more competitive race. I’d like to think I could have won races in my prime with today’s fields.
Andrew – How does it feel to compete and now coach athletes in the Olympics? Which was sweeter for you?
Michelle – It’s a fantastic feeling that I have been able to be part of and coach my husband at London 2012 Olympics, its certainly been a Journey for both myself and Stuart, he was there for me in Athens 2004 and I was there for him in London. Being on both sides of the fence is tough and very emotional. I loved the high’s from competing myself but I also got so much out of watching him compete. I will hold both Olympics very close to my heart.