Canada’s Jackson Laundry won his match at last year’s Collins Cup, but he’ll have his hands full to earn those points for Team International tomorrow as he faces arguably the best half-distance athlete in the world – Norway’s Gustav Iden. He’ll also have to contend with American Matt Hansen, who finished second to Iden at the PTO 2020 Championship in Daytona, Florida.
We caught up with Laundry after last night’s Collins Cup opening ceremonies:
Triathlon Magazine Canada: You had a bit of a surprised look when you saw that you’d be taking on Gustav Iden on Saturday.
Jackson Laundry: I was definitely a little bit surprised, but also I really wanted to race Gustav – he’s the person I would have chosen if they’d given me the choice. When you’re racing Gustav Iden, in a sense the pressure’s off because everyone expects him to just destroy you. I think it’s a good match up for me and I really think I can compete.
You’ve been very focussed on this as one of your big races for the year.
Definitely Collins Cup has been one of my very top races for the year. Oceanside was obviously a huge breakthrough and it was not a peak race for me. I’m in better shape now than I was then, so I just need to put it all together in the race and make it happen.
The pressure might be off you, but you seem to feel that you can compete with Iden on Saturday.
Obviously Iden is a very talented athlete and very tough to beat, but he’s used to having a lot of guys to race with and he keys off some faster swimmers and sometimes some really strong cyclists. When he’s the one who has to set the pace, it’s maybe a position he’s not quite used to.
How much does being here last year help you for this year?
That was huge. Getting to know this format, the area, the roads, and just how it feels to be racing with just two others. That’s the most significant thing I learned from last year. There are going to be times out there where you’re isolated and lonely and you have to dig deep mentally. I was able to do that last year and I’ll do that again if I have to this year.
Team International seems to really have a shot … and it feels like you guys really feel like you have a shot at this.
I know we do. Last year we held our own and won four out of the 12 matches. We had the toughest restrictions to deal with out of any of the regions, Australians and New Zealanders especially were having a hard time traveling, and we were still able to hold our own. This year it is more of a level playing field and I think everyone is here and ready. Talking to my teammates, everyone is feeling good and we’re going to have good days.