Uckfield triathlete Jamie Bedwell has the Olympic Games firmly in his sights and at the age of 17 he is gearing up with more than 25 hours training a week, programmed around college commitments.
He’s ruled out a social life so that he can get up at 4.30am and go to bed at about 8pm and while the Olympics in Tokoyo in 2020 might be too soon for Jamie he definitely wants to qualify through world championship events in 2024.
The commitment doesn’t worry him because he loves what he does and is dedicated to succeeding.
“I sat down with Mum and Dad and my coaches at the end of last season to discuss: ‘Are we going to do this? If so we have to really go for it.’ And we have gone for it.”
Jamie, who lives in Mallard Drive on the Harlands Estate, Ridgewood, has been selected to compete in the British Super Series but crashed out of the first race, the British Duathlon Championships – run, bike, run – at the end of March.
He did a great run but then his bike sliced away from him and his injuries have affected his training regime ever since, particularly the swimming, though he was hoping to get back to swimming this morning (Thursday, April 16).
“This is the most difficult time for me. It’s not hard for me to find the motivation for training but having an injury is extremely hard.”
Looking ahead Jamie is determined to take part in European and World qualifiers on May 10 and then in the London Triathlon at Hyde Park at the end of May. There will be other races across the UK for the rest of the season, which runs from March to September, finishing with a European race at Mallory Park.
Jamie, who lives with his parents Ian and Karen and younger brother Henri – his older brother Tom is studying to be a doctor – couldn’t swim until he was 13. “Well I suppose I could stay afloat but I hadn’t done any swimming at all before then.”
The turning point was a talk by local triathlete Paul Hedger when Jamie was at Uckfield Community Technology College.
“After that I got more into it. I was playing really high level rugby at the time but did one triathlon and loved it and haven’t looked back since.”
Jamie now attends Sussex Downs College at Eastbourne so he can more easily reach his training sessions at Bodyworks, Eastbourne. He’s there five days a week. This includes four early morning starts, four evening sessions and training from 8.30am to 2pm on a Sunday. He also trains on a Saturday morning but that is on his own.
Jamie is currently studying sport and exercise science and he’s hoping to go on to read podiatry – following in the footsteps of his mother Karen – at university. It will help, if he’s accepted on to a course, that there is a podiatry clinic based in Eastbourne, right next to his training centre.
Most professional triathletes are aged between 21 and 30 but the current number one in the world is 32, so continuing success depends on the level of fitness maintained.
After that age triathletes often move into Iron Man, endurance racing, until the age of 40-45.
Then there are competitions for different age groups. Jamie knows of 90-year-olds who are still competing.
Jamie is grateful to sponsors for enabling him to follow his dream and says he couldn’t have raced without their help this year. He has signed a deal with Zone 3, a worldwide triathlon brand which gives him 40% off their kit; The Lodge Dental Practice, Uckfield, has bought all his kit and Chrysalis Construction helps with travel sponsorship.
Jamie says a lot of money is involved in the sport. A bike costs between £2,000 and £2,500; a wet suit is £400 to £500; tri suit, £120; trainers £110.
Race entry is £50 a time and then there are hotel costs, and bike maintenance.
“I couldn’t do this without the help I get from my sponsors or from my parents who get up with me every day, take me to the station and to the competitions. I am very lucky to have the support of all these people.”
To follow Jamie’s progress see his Facebook page.