Stuart Hayes is a London born Olympian triathlete who has won races all over the world. In 2012 Stuart competed in the stunning London Olympics and as part of a strong GB team contributed towards the Brownlees Brothers’ Gold and Bronze medal success. Today Stuart and his wife Michelle Dillon (a former World and European champion) head up Team Dillon coaching, helping others to achieve their dreams and goals in this tough sport.
In May of this year whilst out cycling in Richmond Park, something he has done many times before, Stuart shattered his pelvis after hitting a deer which sent him flying from his saddle. In this fascinating insight into the world of competitive top-level sport, Stuart also reveals his new found love for magic and even shares a trick with us.
“Two hours later the ambulance turned up because the lady who was with me said that I’d been kicked—kicked, not hit…always be careful what you say when you talk to the people at 999.”[2:30]
Stuart was biking around Richmond park, going the speed limit mind you, when a deer flew out and knocked him clean off his bike. He was able to stand, but his legs quickly gave out—and at the hospital an x ray revealed he shattered his pelvis. But it shattered “well” according to doctors. This means his pelvis was able to heal without surgery. This was May of this year and he’s now in the rehabilitation phase, but he was still able to bike to meet me for the interview. Remarkable.[13:00]
“Pressure—that’s what kills athletes. When the Olympics comes around every 4 years the top guys sometimes will never get a gold medal. They can’t handle the pressure.”[16:18]
One of the biggest obstacles of Stuarts triathlon career—or any athlete, is pressure. In order to combat this Stuart suggests watching a movie, read books, hanging out with friends, but the worse thing to do is think about race. The best athletes all have to do this. They’ll find problems, small things and fixate on them which ramps up anxiety and will totally self-destruct their chances of success. He was so nervous he almost didn’t race at Kitzbühel in 2010 for the ITU Triathlon World Cup—but he got into the saddle and won with a breakaway group of five riders.
“That was one of the races that got me in the Olympic games.”[21:46]
Stuart’s races got the attention of the people in charge of selecting who gets to compete in the Olympics. Acting as a ”domestique” for the Brownlee brothers, which means he helps set the pace and act as a workhorse for the team—a job he performed well as both brothers landed medals at the games. But realizing this would be a highlight of his career, he has turned to coaching with an organization his wife founded. He believes anyone can do a triathlon, as he coaches and trains beginners to experts and even helps people in their 80’s finish these races. The transition from high competing athlete to trainer and coach had its ups and downs, but Stuart found another love to help him move on—magic. He’s even performed a trick for Usain Bolt, the famous Jamaican sprinter. He’s happy to be still involved in the sport and helping push others over the finish line while staying fit and exploring new talents.