Desirae Ridenour is in her last year as a junior and is eyeing a top performance come September in Australia at the World Championships. Hot off a win in Osaka-Castle, Japan, Ridenour took the time to chat about last year, her training, recent results and her hopes for the rest of the season.
TMC: Last year you finished the season with a top 10 finish in Rotterdam. How did the race play out?
DR: Yes, so last year at the World Championships in Rotterdam I finished eighth in the junior race. I was expecting more out of myself in Rotterdam. The previous year at worlds I finished sixth.
The goal in Rotterdam was to reach the podium, but I fell short. I had a poor swim and was playing catch up for the rest of the race.
TMC: How has your result at Rotterdam impacted your winter training and races this year?
DR: It has definitely motivated me. This year will be my last as a junior, and I want to reach the podium in Australia come September. I want to win.
After Rotterdam, I needed a break. Following the season, I took some time off and spent time with family and friends. Since coming back to training, I am pursuing my goal of placing high at worlds in Australia.
TMC: Have you been able to continue school with all your training?
DR: I was in school during the Fall 2017 semester. I attend the University of Victoria, and I am currently in their General Sciences program.
During the Winter 2018 semester I did not attend school. It is pretty difficult to perform well in three sports and school, so for the winter, I was training with John Hall and the national team. We spent most of the winter in Arizona, getting in some good training sessions before the race season began.
I will be returning to school in the fall.
TMC: You began your season in Abu Dhabi and then raced a few more times before competing at the Commonwealth Games. Tell us about the experience.
DR: Yes, I began my season with the WTS event in Abu Dhabi, and then I went to Australia for the Mooloolaba World Cup. After that, it was onto New Plymouth, New Zealand, where I got my first win of the season in the junior division. This was my last prep race for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.
The experience at the Commonwealth Games was pretty cool. The athletic facilities were terrific, newly built and right by the athlete’s village. The track and pool were right there, and there was a criterium course nearby that we got to ride on.
Individually, I did not perform the way I wanted. My swim let me down, and when you start the day behind, it makes it very difficult at the senior level to get a top result. I ended up getting back into a pack on the bike, but I didn’t have anything left on the run.
As a team, we came fourth in the mixed relay. It was a good result, but we wanted more. You don’t come to a big race hoping for fourth.
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TMC: What followed after the Games? Did you have some time to rest?
DR: After the Games, I went back to Arizona for some training. But after a week or so there I got sick and went back home to BC.
TMC: And then you won your first elite senior race in Osaka, Japan. Congratulations.
DR: Thank you. Yes, in Japan I wanted to be challenging for a high placing. I wasn’t familiar with all of the elite triathletes on the Asian circuit, so I stuck with the leading group and looked to make a move for the win.
TMC: What has the win done for you as you enter the middle portion of the season?
DR: It has definitely provided a boost of confidence. But mainly the race showed me where I was in my training. After some rest and recovering from a virus I wanted to get back racing.
TMC: The confidence certainly shows in your recent performance at the Super League Triathlon qualifying race in Poznan, Poland. Just how hard is SLT racing?
DR: Yes, SLT racing is hard. I forgot how hard it was. In 2017, I did one SLT race in Jersey, so I knew what to expect, but it still hurts.
At the race only six women ended up competing. The others either dropped out due to injury, sickness or fatigue. So, with just five qualifying spots, there wasn’t as much pressure. It was great to come second and qualify for the Super League Triathlon Championships race series.
TMC: So, you’re training at the moment in the Netherlands. What does the rest of your season hold?
DR: Right now, I am getting ready to race the WTS mixed relay event in Hamburg. Followed by WTS Edmonton, Montreal and Nationals. All this builds towards the World Championships in September.
TMC: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?
DR: First, my goal is the mixed relay. As a team, we are trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020. The top seven teams at the end of the qualifying period will make the Olympics.
My next goal is Nationals. Like every Canadian triathlete I want to win Nationals, and this will be a big race for me before worlds.
And my last goal for the season is worlds. It is my last junior year and I want to finish strong. I want to be at my best and give it my all on race day. My goal is to take home a medal. I want to win.