Ryan Bailie is one of Australia’s best triathletes, and with Rio under his belt and hopes for his second Commonwealth Games team selection, he’s one to watch in 2017. Trizone caught up with Ryan to chat about all things Olympics, training and what it’s like beating Aaron Royle at FIFA every week.
“Once you’ve done it once, you know there’s no reason you can’t do it again. It was a sprint finish with Mola. I just had to keep pushing,” says Ryan Bailie, discussing his impressive 6th place finish at the Cozumel ITU in September. Social media remembers this race as one of the best shows of sportsmanship in history, with Alistair Brownlee helping his brother Jonny finish the race, arm in arm, after Jonny had collapsed with less than a mile to go.
“I didn’t know what had happened” says Bailie, who had been was busy competing with Spaniard Mario Mola for the finish. “I just saw vomit at the finish line, and Jonny in a wheelchair. I and the other athletes had no idea what happened until later.”
Ryan’s voice warms as he says: “Alistair could have been world champion but he helped his brother out.” Clearly the show of sportsmanship warmed the hearts of the competitors, as well as the watching public. Cozumel was a strong finish for Bailie, something he certainly welcomed after his Rio result.
Bailie works hard at Rio 2016
Bailie had competed at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and got a taste of what it’s like to race in some of the biggest global events. “That was a turning point for me,” he says. “It made me think ‘why can’t I make the Olympic team?’”
After the success of a bronze medal in the mixed relay team at the Commonwealth Games and coming fifth in the individual men’s triathlon, Bailie was eager for both more success and a similar experience. “It does make you want it a little bit more, once you’ve had that experience at the Comm Games.” Bailie made the Olympic team, but it wasn’t his best race.
“My goal was to make the front pack of the swim. If I can put myself in the contention early, there’s no reason I can’t make the medals – but it wasn’t to be.”
The front pack was just out of reach. Then, as his helmet was off his bike in the transition, he knew the pack was a solid few seconds ahead. “It wasn’t a bad race, it just wasn’t quite what I was chasing. But it paved the way to help me get stronger, and get me to where I am now,” says Bailie, always the optimist.
Ryan Bailie’s ITU Journey
Bailie has surged forward in the world of ITU racing in the last two years. He made his debut in 2012 in Sydney, and has enjoyed a steady rise since then. Interestingly, it was finishing 28th in London in 2013 that taught him how to make the front pack of swim, giving him the confidence in swimming he has today. “It was an important race for me. I learned I could make the front pack,” he ads.
From then on, Bailie finished 19th in the WTS series in 2013, then finished the 2014 Edmonton ITU in tenth place. In 2015 and 2016, he ranked 6th, and hasn’t left the top ten in any WTS race since 2014. He says he has his training, and his coach to thank.
Jamie Turner’s Wollongong-Vitoria Wizards group
“He puts the athletes first. He’s invested a lot in us guys, and has high expectations. If you don’t meet them, there will be questions asked. If you don’t improve and show what he’s asked you for, he’ll show you the door. There’s no bull**** or mediocrity,” says Ryan about Jamie’s training methods.
“He’s taught me a lot. Not just about triathlon, but about life skills too. I’ve been with him seven years now.”
It’s this training environment that has worked so well for Bailie, and he’s thrilled he made the decision to go down the athlete-driven route vs. going to University to study PE as he at one stage considered. After working hard in the junior circuit, and a summer with Jamie in 2010, it was make or break in South America.
“If I didn’t make the podium, there was no point coming back to Australia to compete,” he notes. Luckily he did make it, and after a frustrating year in 2011, he began his real competitive journey. Now he shares his time between Woolongong and Spain, along with the rest of the Wizards.
“There are no real egos in the group,” he says. “We just get the work done. We all push ourselves, there’s no mediocrity. You see the benchmark Gwen has created and you realise there’s no reason you can’t do that.”
Bailie and Royle – FIFA Rivals
The Wizards are all very close, and Ryan is especially good mates with Aaron Royle who finished just ahead of Bailie, coming in 9th at Rio. “We’re super competitive, me and Aaron,” Baille says, laughing. “We’re good mates. I kick his butt at FIFA on Playstation.”
“We’re mates on and off the circuit,” he continues. “We know when each other needs out space, and when we need to chat. It’s cool to have a friend to travel with. When one races badly, the other helps pick him up. We know how to switch off too.”
Bailie has an exceptionally bright future and is eager to qualify for the Commonwealth Games again in 2018. Hard hitters are taking note of the athlete. “There is no doubt in my mind after what I have seen this year, and especially again today that Ryan Bailie has the best to come over the next four years,” said outgoing National Performance Director Bernard Savage.
Perhaps it’s the competitive nature Ryan inherited from his Mum, a Kona finisher and eager cross fit lifter, that keeps him going. “She asks me to come and lift when I’m home, with my sisters,” he says. “They can both lift way more than me so I never go. Mum could probably squat me!”
Competitive, driven, but also able to have a good laugh, Bailie is one of Australia’s brightest triathletes. With maybe even a 70.3 in his sites, as well as becoming even more competitive in the ITU circuit next year, Ryan Bailie will have an impressive 2017.