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“If I’m standing on that start line in Paris, it’s because I’m there to compete for a medal” – Kate Waugh’s race to Paris 2024

Fresh off the back of her win at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, I sat down with Kate Waugh to talk about her season of a lifetime. In 2022,  she took gold at the U23 World Triathlon Championship finals in Abu Dhabi and in the mixed relay at the World Championship Series in Hamburg.

After her fantastic success she decided to put her university studies on hold and pack up her flat in Leeds and head to Monte Gordo to be coached by Paulo Sousa.

Kate Waugh signs with On

As a youngster she was sponsored by Adidas, but this year has signed with On who have offered their support to help her achieve her dreams of getting to the Olympics.

She said: “I’m excited to be in the On family. I’d been with Adidas for four or five years and I didn’t feel like I had moved up in the brand’s world. I felt like I could be maybe a bit of a bigger fish at On and have more of a say and input into the shoe development as well.”

Whilst testing out her shiny new On Cloudboom Echo 3’s she stormed to victory winning the Super League Triathlon Championship Series.

She commented: “It was their first outing at the Neom final of Super League. I was happy for that to be their debut and to win Super League that day was really special. I was so excited when I got offered the On contract and I love how they’re a trendy sportswear brand that offers kit and apparel for all sports and occasions”

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Shooting for success

Earlier this year she came second at the World Triathlon Championships behind fellow Brit Beth Potter. This sets her up for success in January, where she will attempt to confirm her place on Team GB for Paris 2024.

“I’ve hit only half of the automatic criteria [for selection]. So now the last two remaining spots for the women are under discretion. So, British Triathlon are going to look at my performances over Olympic distance races in particular. And my ability as a relay athlete. The first couple of races of next year are going to be really important. Cagliari is going to be an important Olympic distance to hit and the relay in Abu Dhabi as well.”

All or nothing

She is evidently laser-focused on making this season her best by securing a coveted spot on the Olympic team. After all, that was her main reason why she decided to put her studies on hold.

“I’m one of those people that’s all or nothing. After under 23 worlds, I said to myself, I want to spend the next 18 months fully committing to trying to get to Paris.

“That’s when I decided to put my studies on hold and come back to it after the Olympics. We got offered a place in Paulo’s squad and it was within two weeks of being offered the place that we upped and left. I packed up my whole flat in Leeds and lived out of a suitcase all year. It’s been an adventure, but it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made for sure.”

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It’s all a part of the game

I knew that athletes sacrifice a lot to become the best, but I never realised how much professional athletes do. Her determination to qualify for the Olympics has seen her travel the world, overcome injury and leave behind her family to chase her dreams.

Reflecting on her crash in Madrid earlier this year. She said: “I mean unfortunately crashes are inevitable in the sport and we do our best to avoid them. But they can happen and sometimes it’s no fault of your own. I got taken out in Madrid. Someone slipped out in front of me. It just an accident and I went straight over the top of her and slammed hard on my hip. At the time I was pumped with adrenaline, so I still managed to finish the race.”

Luckily, she came away relatively unscathed from the experience. It goes to show how easily a triathlete’s career can be hindered by what she calls “a part of the game.”

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All roads lead to Paris

Fearless as ever Kate is excited for more competition to come in the New Year.

“I’m going to have to be super fit to compete with Georgia Taylor-Brown and Sophie Coldwell for the last two spots [for the Olympic team]. I haven’t made it easy for myself. But I’ll do my best.”

She also doesn’t shy away from wanting to make her Olympic debut one to remember. She won’t be going to Paris to make up the numbers, she’s determined to medal:

“Because of how competitive you will have to be to even make the team. I think whoever’s on that team is a serious medal contender and I know that’s what British Tri want. They want medal contenders.

“If I’m standing on that start line in Paris, it’s because I’m there to compete for a medal.”


  • George Bennett

    An aspiring athlete himself, George Bennett specialises in athletics and triathlon. Always trying to bring more fans to Track and Field through his podcasts The Elite Endurance Podcast and creating documentaries about grassroots athletics on Youtube.