LEEDS triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown was not exactly brimming with hope heading into her first ITU World Series race in Hamburg in 2017.
“I had no confidence at all,” admits the 25-year-old.
“I stayed at the back of the bike pack, I didn’t feel like I belonged there at all.”
Taylor-Brown eventually finished 31st and looks back on the outing as “tragic.”
A different, more confident mindset was then put into place approaching 2018.
One year on, Taylor-Brown is a World Series bronze medallist and an athlete optimistic of taking one of three GB women’s spots for a first Olympics outing at Tokyo 2020.
This year qualifying for Tokyo is the biggest thing and we have got to target the year’s two Olympic qualification events.Georgia Taylor-Brown
Six years after relocating to Leeds for a degree in sports and exercise science, Taylor-Brown proved one of her sport’s revelations of 2018 with the Calverley-based athlete finishing third in the World Series behind Leeds team-mate Vicky Holland with the USA’s Katie Zaferes in second.
Both are vastly more experienced athletes but a fine second-placed finish at the Leeds World Series leg was followed by third-placed returns in Edmonton and Montreal to seal Taylor-Brown an overall bronze in her first full year of competing.
In quick time, the athlete has made giant strides since her first forgettable World Series outing in Hamburg with the Leeds ace now eyeing more quick progress en route to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I did one World Series race in 2017 in Hamburg but it was pretty tragic so I am not going to count that one!” laughed Taylor-Brown.
“Last year was my first year of World Series and I ended up doing quite a lot of them.
“At the beginning of the year, the aim was just to try and get one or two World Series races in and I was hoping I would get a wildcard or a start for the final. I ended up just getting points to qualify in my own right so I just took it all in and just took every opportunity that I got.
“I ended up with a bronze medal at the end of it – I guess it was kind of beginner’s luck!
“But I gained a lot of confidence last year, definitely.
“I just thought I am going to throw myself into it, I am going to get myself at the front and just give it everything.
“This year qualifying for Tokyo is the biggest thing and we have got to target Yokohama and the Tokyo test event which are the year’s two Olympic qualification events.
“Those will be my biggest races this year and I will be targeting them and giving them my everything but I would still like to do well on the World Series circuit as well.
“It would be nice to go out there and do the same again, if not better, but I am not putting all my energy into those races, I have got to focus on Olympic selection and hopefully there’s going to be many more years in World Series races so hopefully I will qualify for the Olympics and then next year will be all about the Olympics.”
Given Team GB’s strength in depth, Taylor-Brown knows she faces stiff competition in her quest to claim one of the three female spots on offer with GB.
Her Great Britain team-mates Holland, Jess Learmonth, Jodie Stimpson and Non Stanford are all ranked in the world’s top 20 with Taylor-Brown seventh and third-highest Brit.
“The Yokohama world series race is over the Olympic distance so that is kind of the gateway race,” said Taylor-Brown.
“I think you have to finish in the top 10 to then get selected for the Tokyo test event which is in August on the Olympic course.
“It’s going to be tough but it means we get a feel for what it’s going to be like when hopefully we get to the Olympics.
“I think in the Yokohama race and the Tokyo test event, if you podium you get automatic qualification for the Olympics but if not then I think it is kind of discretionary after that.
“I am just taking it each race at a time and I am just grateful for being in every race and in the position I am with such an amazing team around me. The other girls really do inspire you, they motivate you every day and I just feel comfortable racing with them. We look after each other. It’s amazing to have Vicky and all the athletes there, it gives you a bit of guidance and helps you out but I am just enjoying it.”
Another fruitful year could then lead to the ultimate enjoyment at a first Olympics at just 26 years of age and even with time on her side, Taylor-Brown is determined to grab the potential opportunity while she can. Pondering just what it would mean to become an Olympian, Taylor-Brown smiled: “That would be ridiculous and I don’t think I would be able to believe it. If I did get there it would be a first Olympic Games for me so I guess you are still learning and you’re just taking it all in and just really enjoying it.
“But at the same time I am just going to go out there and everyone races to win.
“You go out there and give it everything and I will just take in the whole experience because the Olympic Games only comes around every four years and you might not make it to the next one. You have got to take it when you get it.”