Injury kept her out of the 2008 games. Sickness sidelined her for 2012. It would have been easy to think that Kirsten Sweetland was simply never going to make an Olympic team. Today her dreams were realized as she was named to the 2016 Rio Olympic squad.
We documented Sweetland’s woes in the January issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada. Heading into the 2008 games the 2006 world junior champ seemed like a shoe in to make the Olympic team. A heel fracture kept her off the competition squad – she went to Beijing as an alternate. After winning a silver medal at the 2010 U23 world champs a series of stress fractures kept her off the 2012 team.
In 2014 Sweetland took silver at the Commonwealth Games and was ranked sixth in the world. Much of the next two years was spent dealing with everything from plantar fasciitis to a parasite called dientamoeba fragilis to a clostridial bacteria. It’s a miracle she even got out of bed over the last two years, let alone race well enough to head off to Rio.
We caught up with Sweetland after today’s official announcement of the Canadian Rio-bound Olympic triathletes.
TMC: So how relieved were you to finally be named to an Olympic team?
Kirsten Sweetland: It feels amazing to finally be named after 10 years.
You had such an amazing race at the Commonwealth Games a few years ago, so you know what it takes to come through on the big day. The Olympics takes all that to a new level, though. How are you going to prepare for the added pressure/ hype?
Yea, having seen glimpse of the top end of our sport I know what it takes. I was also in Beijing to watch and saw that, except for the importance everyone places on it, it’s still just an ITU triathlon. Same people, same distance, just hyped up. I think going in just knowing that that’s how it is and not succumbing to the hype, but also recognizing it, will be enough.
That experience in Beijing as an alternate must give you a good idea of what you’re in for in August.
It helped me a ton. It really allowed me to see that it’s just like any other race when you peel back the hype and expectations. Just with more security checks.
Finally … how long will it take for you to stop grinning about the news?
Ha ha … well we were notified about the nominations (unofficial) a while ago and it’s been so hard to keep my mouth shut. I’ve been internally grinning for weeks and I’m sure that’s not going away over the next two months.