Vicky Holland talks about Rio Olympic test event

Our sponsored athlete Vicky Holland is having her best season yet.

After claiming her first series win in Cape Town in April, she then pushed world number one Gwen Jorgensen all the way in Hamburg to finish second.

Hot off the heels of her Rio podium result, we caught up with Vicky about the race and how she feels about taking a step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Here’s her race report.

We travelled to Brazil straight from Hamburg arriving ten days ahead of the race so we had time to adjust to time zone and climate.

We stayed near Sao Paulo in a military base. Sao Paulo was a great base for us as the swims and runs are really good training. Rio itself isn’t great for training as it’s harder to do all three. It’s particularly not great for rides.

The Hamburg result had given me a lot of confidence so I arrived in Brazil on a high. Training in Sao Paulo went smoothly, although most of the training had been done in St Moritz.

In the lead up to the race I was a bit tired, but that was to be expected on the back of two races, travel and a different time zone.

The Saturday before the race on Sunday I did a little bit of everything. It was the bike course recce in the morning. We all wanted to ride the route as it was highly talked about. At 7am they closed the roads for us to trial the route.

Afterwards, I had some breakfast, did a short swim in the pool, around 1-1.5km, and jogged back from pool with a few strides of 20 seconds. By 11am I was done for day so able to rest up ahead of the race.

On the Sunday, I woke up three hours before race around 6am and had some breakfast – porridge, banana and honey and some bread and jam.

It was a hot day but we didn’t get the heat straight away thankfully. Half of the bike course was shaded which prevented us overheating at the beginning of race, but the run was quite hot and exposed.

In terms of the course itself, it is challenging in different way to other courses we have competed on.

We don’t often do sea swimming – it’s a different skill – so that’s one difference. It’s important to get through the waves quickly and get out front fast.

I managed to make an impact. Fortunately, the waves weren’t massive, but there was certainly a bit of chop. Unfortunately, my team mate Helen got concussion in the swim and had to withdraw from the race.

We know we could face bigger waves in Rio 2016 so we need to prepare for that.

The bike ride is also unique as there’s a steep climb and we don’t often get something that steep.

It requires a hard effort of 50 seconds of climbing out of the saddle and riding a different chain set, followed by sharp technical downhill followed by another rise. The rest of the course, however, is quite flat and straight forward.

Most athletes were not worried about the run as it’s straight up and down the promenade.

Everyone focused on the bike and swim in training as they had unique elements to them but the run was actually the hardest for me.

Because it’s very straight, it was hard to break up the course in my mind. It’s literally 1.25km back and forth. I found it hard mentally not to have many turns to break it up.

Of course, the run was also where I had my fall. I got too close to barrier and wasn’t paying enough attention as I was running on the girl’s shoulder and hadn’t realised how close I was to the barrier.

I fell, knocked the barrier over, but managed to get up straight away despite being a bit dazed and confused.

I dropped back to fifth after the fall, but managed a late surge in the final two kilometres to overtake Sarah and clinch that all important podium spot.

After everyone was like you must be delighted. There was an element of that but my overwhelming feeling was that of relief!

It’s a really hard selection policy and I knew I needed to have a podium position to put myself in contention to qualify in Chicago.

So I’m relieved more than anything. It’s the first tick in the box.

It allows me to take a little breather before Chicago which is six weeks away.

I’m a lot happier knowing I’ve done the first stage in Rio and I feel like I’ve got to just to it again in Chicago.

If I hadn’t done as well in Rio there would’ve been pressure to win Chicago but I can go into the race with a bit more confidence.

Having had podium positions in three big individual races – Cape Town, Hamburg and Rio – I think it validates me as an athlete that can podium regularly.

I know heading to Chicago I don’t need to change anything, I just need to maintain everything. If I keep on top of fitness, injuries and my health, I hope to be in the same shape, if not better.