Olympic bronze medallist Vicky Holland admitted the lure of competing at the Collins Cup could be enough to see her return to triathlon after giving birth.
Gloucester’s Holland, 36, became the first British woman to make the Olympic triathlon podium with bronze at Rio 2016 and, after finishing 13th at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games, fell pregnant earlier this year.
Holland confessed her future is up in the air but speaking in Samorin ahead of Saturday’s Collins Cup – triathlon’s answer to golf’s Ryder Cup – said the progressive Professional Triathletes Organisation’s (PTO) policies and prize money could drag her outside her short-distance specialism after becoming a mother.
“I’m not retired. I’m keeping things very open,” explained Holland, who will commentate on the $1.5million event which pits defending champions Team Europe against Team International and Team USA.
“I knew at the end of 2021 I was pretty burnt-out physically and emotionally from a five-year cycle and all that threw at us.
“I came home and took a little while to process that. At the beginning of this year, I knew that no matter what we wanted to have a family and after that I’d assess whether I came back or not.
“Only in the last couple of months since I’ve been pregnant have I thought ‘maybe I would like to have a go’. For the first time ever it is this stuff, the PTO and middle distance, that I’m thinking of.
“I don’t want to pigeonhole myself and make claims that may or may not happen but I’d be interested. What they are doing at PTO is exciting, even the prize money is so tempting to come into.
“It’s prize purses that we don’t see in other parts of triathlon and that does make it seem like a sacrifice that might be worthwhile.”
The PTO’s pioneering policy is paid maternity leave for its female triathletes, with the likes of America’s Chelsea Sodaro taking full advantage and returning to make the podium with third place at the Canadian Open in Edmonton last month, something that has caught the eye of Holland.
“The PTO are taking things to another level,” Holland added. “There’s no other organisation within triathlon that offers maternity leave.
“I know one or two others are now considering putting that in but it’s a no-brainer. As someone who sits here talking to you who is pregnant, I see how big a difference it makes to the athletes.
“They are able to consider having a family at the time that is right for them and their partners rather than saying, ‘well I’ve had my triathlon career, now I have to retire because I’m having children’.
“If this had been around a few years earlier, I firstly would have started doing a bit of middle-distance racing and absolutely would have been signed up to their maternity policy and enjoying that right now.”
Given her background, Holland would love to see Team GB’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games individual silver medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown make the step up but hopes she holds on for a few years to give her a chance to race it first.
Such is the phenomenal strength in depth in the sport in the UK that double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee said he thinks there could be a solely British team at the Collins Cup in the future but Holland is not seeking a sporting Brexit.
She explained: “Knowing Georgia like I do, with the engine she’s got, I think if she turned her hand to this stuff, I think she’d be insane.
“Selfishly I’m hoping they hold off for a few years, so I can come and race it without them. I’ve raced for Team GB with other British athletes a lot and I’ve always loved that and some of my best friends have come from being involved with British Triathlon.
“But I would never usually be on a team with a Nicola Spirig, Daniela Ryf or Laura Philipp, that’s a really cool experience. Whilst I fully think Team GB could have a ridiculous team, I love the Europe concept.”
The Collins Cup takes place on Saturday 20 August at the X-Bionic Sphere, Bratislava. For full listings of how to watch go to https://protriathletes.org/events/how-to-watch