Triathlete Beth Potter admits a temporary return to athletics in order to compete for Team GB at the Olympics could be too good to turn down, after her incredible 5k time which could yet become an official world record.
Potter shocked herself by running 14:41 at the Podium 5k event on Saturday, unofficially the best ever time run on the road.
The 29-year-old switched sports after competing at Rio 2016 and has since made rapid progress in triathlon, but has missed out on selection for Tokyo, with Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jess Learmonth and Vicky Holland already picked for Britain’s three women’s places.
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In an interview with Eurosport, Potter said she had no idea she could run that fast, with the achievement even more impressive given she intentionally went into the race fatigued.
“I was looking for a 15:15”, Potter said.
“The week before I raced at Super League Triathlon in London and I trained really hard in the week leading up to it, because I really wanted to see how I would bounce off a hard block of training.
“That’s kind of my downfall in triathlon, often I am tired on the run because it's taken too much on the swim and bike. So that was really interesting to see how I would go off the back of that, but I was not expecting to run that quickly!"
Whether it will be a world record or not is still to be decided, given there was no race referee at the event to ratify it, although Potter did make sure she had a drug test within 24 hours. Whatever happens, she has beaten Paula Radcliffe's record.
"It's mad, it's still going to be on my Power of 10 at that time, so if that's under the world record no one can take that away from me! So that's pretty cool," she said.
To go be put in the same bracket as Paula Radcliffe, she's always been an idol, that's exciting.
Potter moved away from track and field following a disappointing showing in Rio, severely hampered by illness at the time. But she could yet take part in the British Athletics Championships at the end of June, which serves as Olympic trials. Although her future is very much in triathlon, she concedes making a temporary return to athletics is something she needs to consider.
I’m really torn to be honest, because if I put all my eggs in the triathlon basket and then nothing happens, nothing changes (with selection), then am I going to miss out on a spot on the track team?
“Or if I go for the track team and then... it's just really difficult. It'd be horrible for someone else to be deselected and I certainly would find that really difficult if I was in that position, you think you're going to the Olympic Games and then you're not.
“But the good thing about athletics is that it's based on the in-form athlete in that season.”
Beth Potter competed in athletics at Rio 2016
Image credit: Getty Images
Potter intends on running triathlon events in the coming weeks and months. Once those are out of the way, she will think about the Olympic trials.
“I think I'm going to leave it open, and my plan is to fully commit to triathlon and that's always been the case," she said.
“If I do it, it’ll be the 10,000m. I like the 5000, but 10,000 is definitely my favourite”.
Having had a taste of the Olympics at Rio, Potter’s excited about the possibility of experiencing it all over again in Tokyo. Her situation’s changed remarkably over the past five years, transitioning from part-time athlete to full-time triathlete, uprooting to Leeds and training with the Brownlee brothers.
Looking back over the years, she cannot quite believe how far she has come.
Rio all seems a bit of a blur. It was just mad, the whole period of qualifying and then being at the Olympic Games, I was still teaching full-time at a school in London as well, it was just mental.
“I look back and I just can't believe it all happened in my summer holidays. It was the maddest summer holiday any teacher's ever been on.
“I'd love to go back and I feel like do myself justice because the way I finished and Rio was not the kind of shape I was in that year.
It's just unfortunate that the night before my event, I got ill, so I feel like I've got unfinished business.
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