Holly Lawrence is the current Ironman 70.3 world champion and one of the public’s favourite triathletes, and it’s no surprise why. Trizone caught up with Holly to see how the smiley world champion is enjoying her year on top.
“My first race at Oceanside was a relief,” Holly told Trizone, “I realised last year wasn’t a fluke and everything was OK.” The first half of 2017 has seen Holly remain undefeated at Ironman 70.3 races, adding the North American Pro Championships in Utah to her CV of stylish domination.
Lawrence digs deep to stay in the sport
This season is a huge year for Holly as she’s not only on top of her game, but she’s also got bigger, better sponsors than ever before. Like so many triathletes though, Holly hasn’t always had so much support behind her. “I had no salaries,” remembers Holly. “I was going for the biggest races with the biggest payouts just to make money; I needed to pay for my car and rent. Positions meant money and survival for me in the sport.”
With bills looming, it was do or die for the British athlete training in the USA. “I only had an infinite amount of time before I had to decide to go back to the UK and move back in with Mum and Dad!”
In 2017 though, things couldn’t be more different, and her devoted parents at home in the UK won’t be seeing Holly move home anytime soon; she’s on top of her game and even has her own manager now. “I have great sponsors now, and the support and financial security that comes with that is amazing,” said Lawrence. “I’ve got my dream bike sponsor, Trek, and a mechanic who comes with me to races.” With support from all sides, Lawrence also feels more pressure than ever before. “Now there are more people to disappoint too. It’s not like I can go home and forget about it if I have a bad race now,” said Holly.
Training in Santa Monica is ideal for the Brit
“I’ve suffered in the UK with bad weather for so long, it’s awesome here!” said Holly happily. With excruciatingly long hours of training and long rides in the outdoors, it’s no wonder the world champ favours the climate of the Californian city. “I have a swim club I swim with, and we do one ocean swim every week that you’d never get the chance to do in the UK,” said Holly. “I ride in the Santa Monica mountains, and I run with my boyfriend who is also my run coach, plus I have my bike trainer with Zwift all organised at home, it’s a pretty sweet set-up.”
Moving to the USA has been perfect from the start, though it’s had its funny moments for Lawrence. “When I came to my first swim workout I expected it to be like the UK where no one really talks, you just do it and that’s it. Here though, everyone was high five-ing me and cheering me on saying ‘go for it, one left!’ when I had one lap to go. I was like ‘are these people serious?’” laughs Holly. After the initial culture shock though, she’s settled in nicely and feels more at home training in the climate and happy vibe in the USA.
Data matters to Lawrence
Holly experienced huge improvement under coach Matt Dixon, but has since moved to Train Sharp coaching as she prefers to work with numbers. “Going into Oceanside last year, I was having the same injury issues I’d had for a while with my ITB; it was like history repeating itself,” said Holly. “If you’re so run down, something is going to go, and for me it’s anything along my right side from my hip. I was just sick of having the same problems. I decided to leave Matt and go with Train Sharp that’s all data driven and power based.”
While the numbers are key to Lawrence’s training, she’s also mindful of staying injury free. “I have to keep up with my re-hab and glute exercises. I’m pretty resilient, but getting enough recovery is important for me,” Lawrence told Trizone.
Lawrence prances down the stairs to win Beijing in 2016
“So much happened in a short race,” said Holly laughing. “There were stray dogs everywhere, and at one point, one just come out on the road and I crashed. There’s a photo somewhere of me scraped and bloody, with the local police officers helping me put my chain back on,” remembers Lawrence. “There’s a video of me getting back up and apparently I said ‘are you fu**ing kidding me?’ it was pretty crazy.”
With her head down, Lawrence powered on and made it to the run in front. “There are these big stairs, and I was jumping them by three’s to get to the bottom. I didn’t realise until I watched the race afterwards, that I was prancing and leaping with my hands in the air as I ran down the stairs. It looked terrible!” laughed Lawrence.
By prancing, Holly increased the gap between herself and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle behind her, making it safely to first place last September. “I almost didn’t enjoy the finish chute because I just wanted to get to the end. It was only six days after Mooloolaba (world champs) and long haul flights really take it out of me,” said Lawrence.
Now she’s on top of her game, we had to wonder, does Lawrence know when she’s a shoe in? Far from it. “I never feel like ‘yeah! I’ve got this!’” said Holly, “I’ve never felt like that. The minute I do, I’ll probably lose!”
Not being fast enough to be doping
“To the people who have accused me of doping, it’s just so ridiculous,” said Holly, “I’m not at my best yet, I’m not nearly where I could be. That’s why it just doesn’t make sense!” said Holly.
Unfortunately for Lawrence, she has been confronted by a few loud-mouth media types who have accused her of doping after her impressive results in the past twelve months.
“They’d be better off spending their money testing people outside of events to catch the real cheaters,” said Lawrence, who absolutely detests poor sportsmanship and cheating. “I think there should be life time bans. That would actually work as a better deterrent,” said Holly passionately.
Holly loves trashy things
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and 50 Shades of Grey, I love them! I used to read 50 Shades on the plane and have to cover it with a magazine so no one could tell,” laughed Lawrence.
Women in sport is about people in sport
“As soon as you start making women out to be some sort of charity, that’s when equality doesn’t work,” said Holly. “Having 50 women to Kona doesn’t feel right to me. I’d rather see the best women go to Kona and it should be super elite. Or better still, make a cut-off for 35 men and women.”
Lawrence is keen to point out triathlon is one of the best sports to be part of thanks to equality, “We’re lucky in our sport – women and men do get the same deal, it is equal. Compared to cycling where men are getting millions and women are sharing a few thousands, I mean that’s ridiculous!”
Sponsored by Trek, Lawrence’s bike colours have been selling in Trek’s online stores like hot cakes to both men and women. “It’s not just women who are buying them, I hope I’m contributing to both women and men’s sport. And to sport in general,” said Lawrence.
Like any world champion, it’s not what she says, but what she does that makes Lawrence so good, and she’s the first to realise that. “There are these women who are begging for equality but aren’t doing anything themselves. There are weak fields in some races. I say to those people – you need to show the worth you can offer sponsors.”
Holly Lawrence is on top of her game, and keen to have a laugh along the way. Now our eyes are peeled to see how she fares at the 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga. Our guess is she’ll be on top, again.