Luke Pollard, who serves in the RAF, won the OA Inter-Services Triathlon in 2015 and 2016. He plans to win his third title on Wednesday. We interviewed Luke to find out what it takes to be a champion.
Tell us about yourself
I joined the RAF as a Supplier in 2011, after trade training I decided to take up a new challenge in the form of triathlon. In 2016 I was accepted on the Elite Athlete Scheme, allowing me to focus my efforts full-time on triathlon. I’d never even heard of triathlon six years ago, and now I’m racing in domestic elite events and on the ETU European Cup circuit, earning points to improve my world ranking. This year I am looking to make it three in a row at the OA Inter-Services Triathlon.
How many triathlons have you competed in?
I started triathlons in 2012 but I’ve probably competed in about 40. I’ve raced at almost every level and distance – it’s been a busy 5 years!
Why do you enjoy competing in triathlons?
Honestly, sometimes during a race I’m really not! When you’re on your absolute limit with legs full of lactic, a metallic taste in your mouth and someone ups the pace I think I’d rather be on the sofa with a cuppa. But afterwards when you look back at what you’ve achieved – knowing that all the training and sacrifice has come together – that’s where I get my enjoyment. It really is one of the most rewarding sports out there.
What makes a triathlon tough?
Even our shortest event requires immense amount of endurance. There is no easy triathlon out there, whether it be your first ever race or the world championships anyone that reaches the finish line deserves serious kudos.
What is your training programme?
My training program is quite structured, there are no ‘junk miles’ in there. Every session has a purpose and there is a reason why I’m doing it. On standard training weeks I get in around 27/28 hours of training. Tapping into the University of Birmingham’s triathlon and athletics squads maximises my performance in sessions. It’s hard graft but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it!
What advice would you give to someone competing in a triathlon?
Be social! Being triathletes we all love a good chat about basically anything. You can find little training or racing gems from people who have been doing this for many years. Plus someone’s always got a good racing story!
What makes the OA Inter-Services Triathlon challenging?
The Armed Forces have some fantastic athletes, and all services are incredibly competitive. It took me three years to take the top spot, but now I’m there I fancy staying a while.
What is your sporting ambition?
Whilst on the elite athlete scheme I would love to win the British Triathlon Championships. It’s a race I improve on every year and always attracts the best triathletes in Britain. I am also aiming to podium at a European Cup and improving my world ranking. Although I’m just trying to be the best athlete I can be!
About the OA Inter-Services Triathlon
This year the triathlon is organised by the RAF Triathlon Association, and sponsored by the OA. The Army, Navy and RAF will compete at the annual event, in individual and team categories, including Male, Female and Veteran. In addition to the Armed Forces, the emergency services, the OA and guest teams will participate.
The OA sponsors the OA Inter-Services Triathlon to celebrate the high levels of physical fitness, mental determination and self-discipline that competing requires. These are qualities that will support Service leavers when they make a successful transition into civilian life.