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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK

Lessing bounces back from Sydney

Team Great Britain arrived in Sydney with just one certainty for Olympic gold two years ago, according to the media, and he was not competing in rowing's coxless four.

That "certainty" was triathlete Simon Lessing, the five-time world champion, but in the end he finished in an unwelcome ninth place.

Lessing admits he remains disappointed by his performance but insists he did not come away empty handed.

"My daughter Amelie is approaching her first birthday and she was made in Sydney so it wasn't a wasted trip!" he told BBC Sport Online.

For a notoriously hardworking and driven athlete, it has given him a fresh outlook on his sport and his life.

"It's been great and has handed me so much more aside from sport," he added. "I came back disappointed by Sydney but what the media failed to realise before the Olympics was that gold was never a certainty.

"There are some mornings you wake up and can't be bothered but, while I love it, it's like any job"
Simon Lessing

"There are so many factors to take into consideration on any given day in the triathlon that you can just as easily finish first as ninth."

Despite his mellowing, the most successful athlete in the history of triathlon is more determined than ever for another gold, at the Commonwealth Games, where the sport will make its first ever appearance.

And, as such, he is once again among the favourites for a medal, "of whatever colour" as he prefers to put it.

"I'm in great shape," he added, "and it's always great to go against the world's best which is what the Commonwealth Games is.

"This sport is dominated by Australia, New Zealand, Britain and, to a lesser extent, Canada, and all of them will be there in Manchester."

Now 31, the age barrier becomes an increasing concern and it is beginning to show in the effects of his heavy training schedule.

He confessed: "When I was 20 I could go out and be as fresh as anything. As you get older that gets a little harder.

"There are some mornings you wake up and can't be bothered but, while I love it, it's like any job. Whatever you do for a living there are some parts you don't love about it."

Home intention

Despite that, he still manages to muster a training regime to make any world-class athlete proud.

On average, a run and an hour-and-a-half swim take up his morning schedule while he hits the roads on the outskirts of Bath, where he lives, on his bike in the afternoon.

And all in an effort to impress his home crowd.

"I had the pressure on me in Sydney as the apparent favourite," he said. "On top of that, there was a lot of support for the Aussies.

"This time the pressure will be off me after my showing in Sydney and the home crowd will hopefully be on my side."

Few would bet against him.


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