Catching up with Sam Appleton

After winning five out of the six half-distance races he's entered this year, Sam Appleton will arrive at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga as one of the favorites.

| August 31, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Courtesy Wattie Ink

You’ve said that 2017 has been a "dream year so far." How has this been a dream?

I have started six half-distance races this year and have been fortunate enough to take home the win in five out of those six starts. This is by far my best season to date, and I am excited to see what the back half of the year can bring, too. I have been really enjoying my training and racing and I am feeling happier and more content in my work/life balance. I think that is reflecting in my results.

You have had a number of good victories this season. What sticks out as the perfect race so far?

I think the race i performed best at was Racine 70.3 in July. My numbers were the highest i have ever seen while racing, and that gives me a huge confidence boost in my training and mental approach to 70.3 worlds. While Racine was the "best by numbers" race I have had this year, my favorite event was Geelong 70.3, in front of my sponsors and an Australian crowd. I have always loved the event in Geelong and to be able to win that race this year was a huge highlight for me.

Tim Reed told us “one of the biggest threats that no-one really seems to be talking about enough is Sam Appleton.” Are you buying this as you prep for the Worlds?

I think anyone who is following the sport knows what I am capable of. And, without sounding egotistical, I think a lot of the guys racing have me on their radar. While I may not be a huge name like Kienle, Reed, Gomez or Tim Don, I definitely don't think I am going in unnoticed. Everyone racing the world champs knows their competition and, while the media only talk about a select few athletes, the reality is that on the day there is probably six to eight different guys that can win provided they put their best foot forward.

What does a good worlds look like? Is it win only?

Putting an arbitrary number on a result is not something I usually do. I don't go into a race telling myself I will or won't be happy with 'X' result. I guess it comes down to how I raced. If I made the right decisions and got the most out of myself. I know on the day i will give 110 percent and if that's first, third or 10th, I can't really ask for more than that. After all, this is the world champs, everyone is there firing. I know if i race to my potential i will be right up at the pointy end.

Appleton competes at the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Appleton competes at the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Given Lionel Sanders’ stance on the 20m drafting rule where does it leave the race and has this idea changed your plans?

Obviously not having Lionel at the race is a huge let down. It's the world champs and everyone wants to watch the best go head to head and even the guys racing, including myself, want to race the best. Not to race is his decision, but my strategy and preparation remains the same regardless of who is racing. You can only race who turns up and I am only going to be worrying about myself come race day. 

For those wanting to toe the pro line, what makes a good triathlon pro? What do you need and what do you need to do? 

I think for those wanting to dip their toes into the water of pro racing, just make sure you are ready. It is a huge sacrifice, and while it can be a great lifestyle, it can also be a very stressful one. Both physically, and financially. I honed my skills while still working part time, and I did not make the jump to full time pro until I knew I could 100 percent support myself. It is a very long and slow process, so do not expect results immediately. I think patience and consistency are the two most important factors in my success, and I try to reiterate to any aspiring pro.