The Triathlon Twins

The Brownlee brothers aren’t the only siblings making a name for themselves in the triathlon world.

Derby twins David and Tom Bishop are two of the UK’s best up-and-coming triathletes. We get to know a bit more about the PedalCover Insurance sponsored athletes.

When and why did you get into triathlons?
DB – I have swam since I can remember and soon joined City of Derby Swimming Club. We were always very sporty at school, trying various sports including football and cricket. I believe Tom even gave archery and karate a go! My parents were good runners and both Tom and I took up cross country. My step dad has done triathlon since the 80s so it wasn’t long until we gave it a go, after all, we only needed to add in the bike training. I think we were about ten years old.

Did you always want to be professional triathletes when you were growing up?
TB – I always wanted to ‘make it’ whatever that meant, that idea continues to change. But I always wanted to compete for my country and be the best I can be. It’s the same still.

DB – For Tom and I it was fairly different. At first I was the one more interested in sport, I remember even one day persuading Tom not to quit swimming. Tom was the first of us to gain notable success in Triathlon and in doing so he stopped playing football and dedicated a bit more of his time to the sport. I guess it was then he decided he wanted to be a professional Triathlete. At that time I was still hooked on football and I guess it was only seeing Tom’s success that made me want to achieve the same as him. It was perhaps a couple of years later that I too thought about making the sport I did as a hobby a potential career in the future. Although being as I work at Bespoke Derby (my local bike shop) I’m not sure I could count myself as true professional just yet!

How has your upbringing influenced your careers?
DB – They have been the biggest influence on where we are today. We have the most supporting family. I know one hundred percent that we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. I know for a fact that they have given up a lot to help us so it’s nice when we can share our successes with them.

TB – My parents were sporty and were both runners. We did sport all the time as kids but our parents were never pushy, they just wanted us to have fun. I think that’s the best for development because you actually learn to love your sport rather than it be forced upon you.

Do you think your success is down to nature or nurture?
TB – It’s both, I do believe in natural talent and we aren’t all born with equal amounts of ability. It’s what you do with that ability however, which is what makes you the complete athlete. I knew more naturally talented athletes than me who couldn’t hack the life of a full-time athlete – maybe that’s part of the ability; to cope with the lifestyle. All I know, is that I had to work hard to get where I am and I suppose that backs up the nurture side of the argument.

Do you train together?
DB – Before going to University we used to train together all the time. However since Tom went up North to Leeds and myself to Loughborough University we only really get to train when we are both visiting home or at a race or training camp. I believe we are the perfect training partners for one another as whenever we get together at a training camp, we both get the best out of ourselves and really enjoy the training we do. One particular time was a camp out in St Moritz in 2013.

Outside of triathlon, do you spend a lot of time together?
DB – Since leaving for university Tom and I have perhaps become closer so we keep in touch a fair bit and speak most days. We have the same friend groups so outside of sport when meeting up with old school mates we are usually together. Tom is good friends with the triathletes based at Loughborough so he often pops down to get a change of scenery or catch up with people.

Who’s the most competitive?
DB – That’s a difficult one… It is probably fairly even, although we aren’t really competitive between ourselves which does surprise people. I think it’s because we both want the best for each other, even when that does mean one of us will beat the other.

TB – David!

Are you hard on each other?
DB – I wouldn’t say we are hard on each other but we do give each other a fair bit of advice and not just about competing in triathlons. Usually if Tom wants to criticise me he will tell my mum first in the hope she will tell me – haha!

TB – No, I want David to do as best he can, even if that means beating me.

What in your opinion makes for a good triathlete?
DB – Hard work and consistency, something that I have learnt in the past few years. It really does pay off!

TB – Commitment to training and a holistic approach to triathlon too.

What’s your typical daily routine?
DB – The program that we have at Loughborough University varies day to day with a different emphasis on each session. Training will change throughout the season depending how close it is to race season. However most days generally involve the three disciplines and usually some form of gym or run drills.

TB – Wake up, rehab routine, coffee, swim, breakfast then probably a run after my breakfast has gone down. Dinner, ride, relax (read, watch TV, socialise a little), tea then bed. My training won’t be the same every day, it depends on if I have intense sessions or not – if I do, then napping will be feature as well!

What’s each other’s best and worst quality?
DB – Tom’s best quality is his confidence and worst is that he can be very unorganised!

TB – David is very social and a lot of what he does is with that in mind, both training and outside of triathlon.

What’s the main difference between you?
DB – Tom is definitely more confident than me. I guess that has come from greater success at a younger age. Tom on the other is pretty hopeless at organising things and often leaves things to the last minute….or leaves me to handle things!

TB – I’m more of an introvert, while David is very social.

Do you get compared to the Brownlee brothers? Do you mind?
DB – We sometimes do. People ask if we will be the next Brownlees, obviously they are incredible athletes so it’s great to hear that people think we could potentially get to achieve something similar to them. The way those two race is really impressive and it’s the type of racing Tom and I try to emulate. To be half as successful as them would be great.

TB – Occasionally. I don’t mind, they’re great athletes to be compared to. If we achieve an ounce of what they have achieved in triathlon then we’ll be very happy!

What do you hope to achieve for the rest of the season?
DB – I had a good start to the season and really built on last year, however my last couple of races haven’t been the best. I have had a couple of issues I have had to address with my asthma, so hopefully after a training camp out in Portugal I can focus on the last part of my season and get things right. Ideally I want to try earn some points and money to help me get out to Australia early next year with Tom to do some early season races. I have heard great things about Noosa!

TB – I only have one race left and that’s the Edmonton WTS. I’m feeling in my best shape and hope to produce my best race yet. It’s a sprint distance which doesn’t quite suit me as much, but we have to be competitive at all distances to be a world class triathlete, so it’s something I’m really targeting. I sadly didn’t qualify for the grand final in Chicago, I didn’t time my peak right and I missed my chance in the qualifier in May.

What does the future hold for you?
DB – I always say to myself, I can work the rest of my life, so I want to give triathlon a go for as long as I can afford to do so and try and get myself to the best level I can….whether that’s in ITU style racing or longer distance.

TB – I’d like to continue doing this sport as long as I can. I love it and the lifestyle. I meet so many great people each year and I still feel there is so much more to come. One day I’d like to step up into the longer distance league. I think those guys are incredible and would love to give Kona a real shot.

Why are you happy to be involved in Pedalcover Insurance?
TB – Pedalcover is a great new company which actually understands insurance for cyclists and triathletes. Some insurance companies don’t understand the true value of bikes. Pedalcover is set up by bike riders and they value not just the material wealth of bikes but the actual passion and enjoyment it brings. An accident or being a victim of crime is never fun, but it’s nice to know that Pedalcover has your back.

DB – The guys at Pedalcover genuinely care. Having come from a sporting background, they understand the needs of cyclists and triathletes and have shaped a policy around these needs. It’s a great company to be a part of and the insurance policy they provide me with means I have one less thing to worry about when racing and training.