At the recent British Championships in Sunderland, Dom Coy came away with the Bronze medal in the Mixed Team Relay for Cardiff, and he achieved 6th place in the Individual race. Dom was selected to represent Team Wales at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and alongside his Welsh teammates – Iestyn Harrett, Olivia Mathias and Non Stanford – he won Silver in the Mixed Team Relay in his Games debut. Earlier this year, Dom competed in the European Cup in Kitzbuhel, a place he’d visited previously for his first big international race at the European Youth Championships Festival in 2019. Having competed at his last junior competition last year at the World Junior Championships in Portugal, Dom won Bronze for his first elite international medal, and he is now targeting the European and World U23 Championships over the next couple of years. We spoke to Dom about the recent British Championships in Sunderland, winning Mixed Team Relay Silver for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and competing at last year’s World Junior Championships.
What was it like competing in Sunderland at the recent British Championships, which saw you win Bronze in the Mixed Team Relay and 6th in the Individual?
I always love to compete on the British stage, and so far this year in Super Series races, I had performed below the level I know I’m capable of, so I went into Sunderland just wanting to put out a performance I could actually be proud of.
On the day, I didn’t quite deliver to my max potential, due to a below par swim, but made a great recovery during the bike/run sections so overall I was happy with the result. It was a pretty tough course with a chaotic swim and there is huge depth of strength in Britain at the moment, so to be in the mix in my first year as an U23 athlete, I can’t complain too much.
Then, for me, a Mixed Relay is always just a really enjoyable experience – to be able to race alongside teammates is just fun, and to come away with a Bronze for our Cardiff team was a bonus.
You made your Commonwealth Games debut this year in Birmingham, how did you find the experience competing there and what was it like finding out you’d been selected for Team Wales?
Simply put, the experience was amazing. I was super proud and excited to be able to represent Wales. The main aim for me going into the Games was to enjoy it, soak up the experience/atmosphere and then put together my best possible performance in the Relay.
I had known for a while there was a potential chance I would be selected, and when I found out I was mostly just looking forward to racing, but felt quite nervous. I think it took a while to sink in and it’s still mind-blowing, to be honest, every now and again I think back and remember “Oh yeah, I did that!”.
In the Mixed Team Relay, you won the Silver medal alongside your teammates Iestyn Harrett, Olivia Mathias and Non Stanford, what was it like collecting your medal and what did you enjoy most about competing in the event?
That whole day was just mental. Going into that race there was a great vibe within the team, we each knew exactly what we needed to do and felt ready to go out and compete. However, coming away with a Silver medal was above our expectations, and standing on the podium together was amazing. It almost felt like we’d won, even though we finished 2nd, because everyone expected that England should win, but our performance was something a bit more special to beat the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
The best part of that relay experience was the team atmosphere and environment that probably lead to our success. Each of us athletes, but also our support staff, did their jobs practically perfectly. Plus, it was really cool to share that experience with Iestyn, who I train with in Cardiff pretty much every day and Non, who I have gone from watching winning the World Championships nine years ago, to handing over to in the Commonwealth Games relay – her last race representing Wales.
How was it competing in the Men’s Individual Sprint Distance and how did you prepare for the competition?
Racing in the individual event and lining up against some of the top triathletes in the world currently was great. I definitely learnt a lot from the individual race that helped my performance in the relay too. After missing the main leading bike pack, I ended up having a relatively quieter race, which allowed me to really soak up the atmosphere from the crowds around the race venue in Sutton Park, which was awesome. For my first big championship race, I was pleased with the performance, but there was some frustration, as I know I could have been capable of a top 10 if I had avoided making one or two mistakes.
Because the event with most priority for me going into the Games was the relay, there wasn’t much specific preparation just for the individual. We did do some run sessions on a hilly loop around Cardiff with a similar profile as the Commonwealth run course, to help prepare us for that, which I think definitely helped though.
What are some of your favourite memories from competing at your debut Commonwealth Games and staying in the Birmingham athletes village?
We didn’t actually stay in the athletes village. Instead, the whole Welsh triathlon team were staying in a farmhouse nearer the race venue, which reduced some faff compared to staying in the village, but that is an opportunity I missed out on a little, so hopefully I’ll get another opportunity to stay in a village, fingers crossed at the next Commonwealths.
Apart from the whole experience staying with the team around the race, I think a big memory that stands out was watching Non on the last leg of our relay.
After my leg, where I’d completely emptied myself, I recovered and rushed back to see Non finish off the race for us. We were stood watching and waiting, shouting. I can just remember crazy emotions during those five minutes, from the realisation I’ve just had one of my best races ever, excitement and anticipation, to the relief and elation when she crossed the line. It was something special.
Can you tell us about your time competing at the European Cup in Kitzbuhel in June?
In 2019, I visited Kitzbuhel for my first big international race, the European Youth Championships Festival. So I was super excited to head back to race at one of my favourite venues, although with a different format than I was used to, with the European Cup this year being over the new eliminator format.
I used the race primarily as an opportunity to practice racing over a shorter distance before the Commonwealth Games, with hopefully four mini races over two days. I managed to get through each round of elimination and finished 6th, which was a great result for me, with some tough but enjoyable racing.
Last year, you won a Bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Portugal, what was it like winning your first elite international medal?
To be honest, it came as quite a big surprise. I knew I was in good form after my best and biggest training block ever going into that race, but I never thought I would end up on the podium.
It was really cool to stand on the podium and a great experience, but it definitely took a while to sink in fully as well. The race itself probably wasn’t even one of my best performances, but it felt awesome to pull a good bike and run out of the bag on such a big occasion.
How was it having the World Junior Championships as your last competition as a junior and how have you found transitioning from a junior triathlete to a senior?
It was quite nice – because it was my last race as a junior, it meant my priority was just to go in and enjoy it, almost taking the pressure off myself a bit. Because that race went well, it set me up nicely and has definitely made the transition across to senior racing easier.
My aim now is to be in a position where competing in triathlon full-time would be financially sustainable by the time I finish uni, so I’ve just got two or three years to work on my weaknesses and keep moving on bit by bit.
What was it like getting back to international competitions with the Banyoles Junior European Cup?
Yeah, so obviously, Banyoles was my first big international race since the pandemic. I travelled out to Spain with my dad and we spent a week in Girona training, which was really cool. I also used the race as prep for the British Champs and World Juniors qualifier at Mallory Park the following week, which seemed to work well.
The race itself was a great experience, in a lovely race location and definitely gave me some confidence before the big World Champs race at the end of last year.
What are some of your stand-out highlights of your career so far and can you tell us about some of the other competitions you’ve competed in over the years?
The main big highlights of my career so far are undoubtedly the World Junior Champs last year, and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Apart from that, I think 2019 was quite a big breakthrough year for me, with my first GB Championship race in Kitzbuhel, and later in the year winning the 16-19 age group category at the Sprint Tri World Champs in Lausanne, Switzerland.
I have been lucky enough to race some youth/junior super league events in Jersey and Malta too, which were good fun.
Where does your love of triathlon come from and how did you get into it?
My dad got me into triathlon basically. I did my first aquathlon when I was eight years old, podiumed in it and have just carried on since, progressing bit by bit up to the level I am now.
I love the sport because I love to challenge myself, and training for three sports definitely does that and also keeps it interesting. I’ve made many friends, and had some amazing experiences over the years through competing in the sport too, and that is partly what gives me motivation to keep pushing myself further in it.
Have you been given any advice over your career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new triathlete at the start of their career?
I think there are two main keys bits of advice or key things to remember, which can apply to any sport really, which I’ve been told and I would pass on to other people starting out in triathlon too.
Firstly, the most important thing is to make sure you’re enjoying whatever you’re doing. If you’re not enjoying the training or competing, then take a break, or try something else for a while. There’s no point in breaking yourself to achieve something that won’t make you happy.
The second thing is to remember that you’re never invincible; never the best at something forever. Setbacks and challenges will always come, and it’s how you respond to those that make you the athlete you are.
I try to always bring a positive mindset into races, and whatever the outcome, I analyse that performance, identify where things weren’t great, then use those mistakes or areas of improvement to motivate me to get things right the next time. It might take many tries, but if you keep coming back, improving just slightly each time, eventually things will go right.
Can you tell us what your typical training day looks like and how does it change in the lead-up to a competition?
Normally I train 20 to 25 hours each week, with the exact amount depending on university workload and the time of year in relation to races, with bigger volumes on camps and in big intense blocks of training.
Usually, I train in at least two/three disciplines of the tri each day, with a lot of the training just being aerobic work to build a good base, with one or two key hard sessions a week in each sport. In a lead-up to a race, volume decreases slightly, but in general doesn’t change significantly until a couple of days before a race. Then the last day before racing, I usually do a prep day, with mini sessions in all three sports to make sure everything is firing properly and I’m feeling good.
How do you like to spend your time away from sports?
Away from triathlon, a lot of my time is spent on my degree. I am studying Civil Engineering at Cardiff University, which can be pretty intense at times.
Apart from my studies, I enjoy spending time with friends, playing guitar, eating, sleeping, and challenging myself in different ways, like learning new skills.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
I am almost finished for this triathlon season, so there isn’t much coming up in the immediate future. My main plan now is to have a nice solid winter of training, with a big focus on my swim to try and improve that before the start of next year.
For the next couple of years, some of my big targets will be the European and World U23 Championships too, with qualifying and doing well in those, to help move up to senior WTCS level, being a big goal.
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