Mentality takes you a long way in sport and Tom Bishop believes managing his will form the cornerstone of the 2020 triathlon season.
The 28-year-old knows the rewards for a competitive campaign could be bigger than any he has reaped so far in his career as the summer’s Tokyo Olympics loom on the horizon.
While some may find their focus drowned out by the noise of an Olympic year, Bishop refuses to make any grand commitments – instead embracing 2020 in a relaxed manner in a bid to defuse pressure.
“I am feeling pretty good about myself and I am training well without any injury worries, which I am really happy about,” said Bishop, who recently headed to Australia for a British Triathlon training camp.
“It is a big year and there is a lot of pressure on in terms of qualifying for the Olympics, so I am making sure that isn’t the only goal. I just want to race well, deliver my best times and the rest will take care of itself.
“It is all about trying to manage stress and I know I perform better when I am relaxed. When I look at delivering performances rather than results, I always do better.
“I am not worrying about Olympic selection because it will distract me, but it is still exciting.”
Sport can be a cruel mistress and Bishop knows all about it better than most, narrowly missing out on being a support runner for Jonny and Alistair Brownlee at Rio 2016.
The Leeds athlete reflects on that missed opportunity in a typically positive light and has since gone on to perform well at the Commonwealth Games and World Triathlon Series – winning silver in the 2017 edition of the competition.
That big event experience, Bishop believes, has prepared him for a pivotal season and he now wants to make the Olympic team on his own merits.
“When I look back on Rio, I am happy that I rebounded. It motivated me to go for individual qualification rather than just as a supporting athlete,” he said.
“It changed how I value the sport in my life, and I want to make it to Japan for myself rather than just to say I have been on an Olympic team. I do triathlon because I love it, so I am just happy racing.
“I want to do it because I want to be the best I can and in 2016 I didn’t feel I was ready to do that.”
Bishop, who will look to qualify for the Olympics with strong showings at a number of upcoming ITU World Triathlon Series events, has adapted his training regime to focus on high-intensity sessions.
While ultimately in control of his own path, he has taken advice on how he should approach the upcoming season, perhaps most notably when speaking with twin brother David.
The pair share a close bond and David, a high-level triathlete in his own right, has provided a useful sounding board for Tom – the younger sibling by ten minutes – as well as a yardstick to measure his progress by.
“It has helped having someone alongside me who knows me so well,” Bishop said. “We still train together when we have the chance.
“We started at the same time and as twins you do everything together. We were competitive but it was always a case of wanting to win races not just beat each other.
“David has given me advice throughout my career and even at the end of last year he was the one saying I should hit sessions a bit harder and a bit fresher.”
British Triathlon are hosting the World Triathlon Series Leeds 2020 from 6 – 7 June. Tickets are now on sale and you can secure your place at the heart of the action by visiting https://www.millsqleeds.com/whats-on/all-shows/aj-bell-world-triathlon-leeds-2020/5536