Rising British triathlon star Sam Dickinson aiming to be more than just a pace-setter

The world of sport may be in Olympic-qualification mode but for one young man from Yorkshire, it is next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham that is at the top of the agenda.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 7th June 2021, 5:37 pm
Pedal power: Sam Dickinson in action during the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series in Leeds.

Sam Dickinson, 22, hopes to use his moment in the spotlight at the World Championship Series event in Leeds on Sunday to propel him towards his goal.

While the majority of the focus in Roundhay Park was on the passing of the torch from Alistair Brownlee to Alex Yee, Dickinson produced an eye-catching turn in the role of British team domestique.

Dickinson got on the front of the bike race midway through the 40km dash and upped the ante with a break that forced Britain’s rivals to expand more energy pursuing him.

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Great Britain's Samuel Dickinson in action (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

It was a perfectly-executed, selfless act that laid the platform for Yee to gallop to victory in the 10km run.

It did plenty for Dickinson, though, the prominent position on terrestrial TV raising the profile of the young man from York.

“Absolutely not, I had a job to do,” he said when asked if being at the head of the race took him by surprise.

“I got my head down and sent it.”

Great Britain's Samuel Dickinson sets the pace on the bike during The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series in Roundhay Park (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

The incentive now for Dickinson is to return to training at the Leeds Triathlon Centre and focus on becoming the focal point of the British squad.

“I’ve got to get my head down and hopefully next time I step on a start line I won’t have to be domestiquing,” said Dickinson, who has worked his way up through the age groups.

“I really want to show what I’ve got in the run leg, too.”

The European Championships in Kitzbuhel later this month are next up, if Covid rules relax to allow the British team to travel to Austria. Then it is Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“I’m absolutely aiming for those, a home games as well,” he confirmed. “Next year, I just need to sort my running out and then it’s heads up to Paris.”

It was a nostalgic triathlon though for Dickinson.

He has been coming to the race as a spectator ever since it came to Leeds in 2016, hoping one day to have put himself in a position to compete, and, as he demonstrated, prove he belongs.

Born in York to sporting parents – his Dad captained the combined-services water polo team, his mother was a county-level gymnast – he moved to the triathlon hotbed of Leeds to give himself the best chance of making it full-time.

“Ever since I started triathlon, I’ve come to watch this race when it was in London and then four or five years ago when it turned up in Leeds,” said Dickinson, who is on the Lottery-funded world-class performance programme.

“Every year I stood on the sideline, cheering these boys on, thinking next year it’s going to be me and you know what, 2021 it was me, and I just really hope I did everyone watching proud.

“I was once a little kid watching and I got my first triathlon win back here in 2013.

“I hold fond memories of this place and it is always special to have a home crowd.”

Further up the field, Jonny Brownlee finished ninth but knows he has work to do if he is to be a medal contender in Tokyo.

“If I want to win an Olympic medal, I need to train hard for the next six to eight weeks and hope for some consistent training to arrive in Tokyo, fit, fast and ready to race,” said the two-time silver medallist.

The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds makes its return to the city for the fifth time and represents the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK

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