Commonwealth champion and Team England Athlete Ambassador Jodie Stimpson has always known it was her destiny to swim bike run, experiencing her first taste of triathlon at just eight years old.
Stimpson joins 30 other Athlete Ambassadors across a range of sports in the programme that launched last November with Commonwealth Games England President Denise Lewis.
The programme sees our leading and upcoming talent share their journeys as we prepare to take the biggest and best prepared team to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in 11months time.
Her passion for the sport saw her develop from her first competitive race in 2009 in Hyde Park onwards to Commonwealth stardom at Glasgow when she won gold for Individual and Mixed Team Relay events.
“I can’t really remember ever wanting to do anything else if I’m honest,” she tells Team England. “Ever since I did that first triathlon that’s always been what I wanted to do throughout school and everything – it was always about triathlon.”
Triathlon has changed dramatically since Stimpson first began and one of the most positive developments the Team England Ambassador has seen is increased women participating in the sport.
“Triathlon’s grown so much,” she said. “It’s become a lot more equal so the BBC will broadcast both male and female races.
“The women have got such a strong group now, I think before it was led by Alistair and Jonny Brownlee but we’re very lucky that we’ve got such a strong women’s team as well.”
Despite suffering an early stress fracture which has ruled her out of her favourite World Triathlon race in Leeds, she aims to return for the 2017 series event in Hamburg this July.
She said: “Going in to this season it was all geared around Hamburg and trying to qualify automatically for the Commonwealth Games next year. So that’s the ‘A’ race of this year and definitely the number one goal of 2017.”
Stimpson won triathlon gold at the 2014 Glasgow Games in the individual event and the mixed team relay but the 28-year-old does not consider herself one of the favourites.
“The Commonwealths have got such a strong group of triathletes, I wouldn’t think of myself going in to that as being the favourite by any stretch of the imagination,” she said.
“As much as the Commonwealth Games is extremely important you kind of have to see it as just another race and to me that’s how I view every race.
“Whether it’s a WTS (World Triathlon Series), the Grand Final at the end of the year or Glasgow, you have to go into it seeing it as another race otherwise the nerves will just take over.”
With a personal connection to the Gold Coast, the reigning champion cannot wait for 2018 and is focussed on replicating her success at Glasgow.
“I have a lot of friends on the Gold Coast and have spent quite a few years there so I think it will be an amazing Commonwealth Games,” she said. “It’s definitely my top priority to be a part of Team England again.”
“I know that on the Gold Coast they’re definitely behind the race and they’re really excited to have the Commonwealth Games there.
“I think that can play a bigger part than the actual specifics of the course. It hasn’t placed me very well the last two races I’ve raced there so hopefully if I qualify I get to correct that.”
“You don’t get any opportunities to just represent Team England, it’s such an honour to be able to represent my country.
“I’m very proud of where I come from and I think everybody knows that who knows me so to be able to represent England again at the Gold Coast would be amazing.”