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Ryan Fisher, on the road to Rio?

As we near the finalisation of the Australian Olympic Triathlon team, we catch up with the man many think will get a much coveted spot, Ryan Fisher, and ask him your questions.

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Transitions: What is your personal background?

Ryan Fisher: I was born and raised in the western suburbs of Brisbane in a family of five. I'm the middle child with an older sister and younger brother. I attended my local primary school before starting high school at Ipswich Grammar where I lasted all of one year before moving to Marist College Ashgrove to finish the remaining years of senior education before graduating in 2008.

Growing up most weekends, holidays and pretty much any other time I could get away were spent with family and friends on the Sunshine Coast where we have a little beach house. Our house was pretty chaotic and seemed like there were always someones friends over and the house and backyard covered in bikes, skateboards, surfboards and pretty much every ball in every shape and size.

Transitions: What is your sporting background?

Ryan Fisher: I don't know where to start! Growing up I always swam right from 'learn to swim' up into squad training. Along the way I rode for a Motocross club, played Aussie Rules, Soccer, Rugby, surfed, skated, ran cross country and athletics at school and then found Triathlon. I did my first ever Triathlon at 11 years old at Bribie Island on my sister's purple mountain bike (which I thought I was too cool for) but never really took it seriously until I finished school. Up until I graduated senior, Soccer was the only sport I took seriously and was what I seemed to be best at.

Transitions: How did you get into tris?

Ryan Fisher: Like I said, I had always swam growing up and ran through primary school in cross country and athletics. A mother of a girl at my Primary School was a Triathlon coach and one day asked if I wanted to try a Triathlon, which I just nodded not even knowing what on earth a 'Triathlon' was. From that first race in Bribie Island which is about 45min from Brisbane I continued to dabble in local races, school sport Triathlon which has now lead me to where I am now.

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Transitions: What's it like for an up & coming pro these days? In the early days, a lot were partying as much as training (remember Welchy's comments during the run at the 89 World Cup "It's too tough. I've been in Noumea all week partying"). Is there the opportunity to let your hair down much, or is it all too serious these days?

Ryan Fisher: That's a tough one! I think it's a pretty individual thing. From what I see most don't really go out and party or honestly do too much at all outside training. I know for me and I think the coaches I've had around me have always worked it out in time but when I'm too indulged in Triathlon/camps ect. I tend to struggle mentally which then pretty quickly effects physical performance. I have always needed an out from it all, outside of training I don't really hangout with any Triathletes and find even just being able to getaway for a surf or a beer with friends is enough. As for actual partying, until the season is over I don't really get into it much. I like the sound of the old days though!

Transitions: In all honesty I would love to know at a rough estimate how much money your parents pumped into your career before you became self sufficient? And at what age did you start earning enough to support yourself.

Ryan Fisher: Probably the hardest of all the questions to answer. Firstly because it's hard to accumulate everything over the years and secondly because I hate to think of my Dad's reaction if he knew! Again it's really hard but if I had to give you a ball park figure adding together years of coaching fees, bikes, shoes, apparel, airfares, accom, treatment ect I would say something around $30,000. Having had this question asked makes me feel so fortunate that my parents were able and willing to support me.

My parents probably haven't payed for much since I was about 21. It's not necessarily because I was earning enough to support myself but more because I was then at the point where I was supplied equipment from sponsors and had flights/accommodation and treatment the majority of the time covered by Triathlon Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport and the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Transitions: Given Adam Scott's recent withdrawal from the Olympics stating he was too busy, how do you think the Olympics sits in the scheme of world Triathlon?

Ryan Fisher: For me being an ITU Triathlete I'd say and I think nearly everyone else would agree that it is still by far the pinnacle of our sport. As for the non drafting long course athletes I think it would be an interesting question, obviously Kona is also such a prestiges event with a big history.

Transitions: Who is coaching you, and with the number of excellent Australian coaches that coach other national teams and overseas and are proven performers on the world stage, do you get any access to them ?

Ryan Fisher: As of November last year I'm now being coached by Shaun Stephens who was a former head coach of the AIS triathlon program and also coached me for a year when I was 19. Shaun then moved overseas when he became a performance coach for Team Sky for a number of years before coming back to Australia last year which was when I went back to being coached by him.

Honestly I'm not to sure how it works, there definitely are a lot of great Australian coaches that aren't linked to our federation anymore but some still coach Aussie athletes so I guess there is a potential opportunity there?.

Transitions: I know maybe only one or two people on the selection panel, and I'm not familiar with many names or faces of many on the panel at all. So assuming you're of a similar position, do you ever wonder just how qualified and learned the selection committee are on the ins and outs of draft legal racing? If they understand how different races are affected by different courses, tactics and competitors, and understand what athletes are affected more than others by specific elements (like a technical hilly bike course expected in Rio)? And furthermore, do you worry if they are in any ways susceptible to external pressures from coaches and support staff to pick their particular athlete over others?

Ryan Fisher: In regard to the first part, I'm in the same position. I only know one of selectors because he is our National Performance Director but don't know names or faces of the others on the panel. Yeah of course, I've asked myself those questions which I think is pretty normal. I guess you just have to hope they are in the position they're in because they do their research and have the knowledge of courses, athletes and course demands. With the Rio Olympics obviously being the next team to be announced all of those factors are going to be even more important because the course is so specific in certain areas and has polar opposites to those of London. One lap ocean swim, tough technical bike and the run will be more suited to the stronger athletes who can handle heat opposed to the pure speed runners from the groups further back.

Again I've thought about all of those things, being in the mix for selection I've gone through all sorts of different scenarios and outcomes. Similar to the first part though you'd like to think being as important as the Olympic Games they will pick the athletes who have best performed in the set selection events and recent WTS races and who are best suited and capable of a good race in Rio. In that aspect I feel I'm in a good position to get selected because apart from Aaron and Ryan who have already been selected, I have been the next best placed Australian in every World Triathlon Series Olympic distance race in the last 12months, including the Rio Test event and Gold Coast Selection Race. Based on my recent improvements and the fact that the Rio course suits my strengths (fast swim, hilly and fast bike and hot run) I believe I can be really competitive in Rio.

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Transitions: Gomez is talking a big game on social media about knocking out a sub 16 minutes 1500m in the pool over night. What's your1500m PB?

Ryan Fisher: He is talking a big game and if I ever swim under 16min you'll probably hear about it ha! I have never done a 1500m race or TT but an estimate based on my 1km I'd say I would swim around 16.50. Hearing that and seeing that Schoeman and Varga both swam just over the 16min mark recently shows how fast the swim is going to be in Rio later this year!

Transitions: Why did you split with the VIS? i.e. not allowing you to do what you wanted to do, did you get dropped. Had you just had enough of the internal crap affiliated?

Ryan Fisher: Simply it just wasn't working for me. I have a certain expectation and level where I think I can and just felt I wasn't going to be able to get to that level being there. At the same time as this I heard that Shaun (current coach) had just left Team Sky so I got in touch with him and that was it. It was hard to leave VIS because the guys I was training with are some of my best mates in the sport and the support I was given there was the best I've had.

Transitions: If/when you make it to Rio, what other sports will you go to watch, and which other athletes would you like to meet?

Ryan Fisher: I'd love to go and watch as many sports as I can, even ones I'm not usually so interested in just because it is the Olympic Games after all. Off the top of my head, I like to meet Stephen Curry because I think he's the best player in the NBA at the moment and love his attitude.

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Transitions: If you were to miss out on Rio, will you pick up long course in the near future (i.e. next year or two at the most)

Ryan Fisher: If I had of been asked that a year ago I'd have said I'd be on a TT bike the next day. Since being with Shaun I have almost improved every single week for the past 6 months now and regardless of selection want to chase the World Title race and finish as high up in the rankings as I can. Obviously this progression can't be sustained to the same degree forever but I want to keep pushing for a few more years at the minimum to see where I can go. In saying that, if I missed selection, I would be pretty devastated.

Transitions: If you could go back to when you first became a pro triathlete, what would you do differently? (i.e. is there anything that you kinda regret)

Ryan Fisher: Looking back I probably took on board advice from to many different sources. I got pushed between a number of coaches and environments for a for a few years being told each was going to be better for me than the other. I then pulled away from wanting to be with any of them and that only made things worse and I was always thinking about my next move rather

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