Hereford triathlete Jemima Cooper recently competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships held in Nice, France. Jemima has completed a number of gruelling races during her 2.5 years in the game, but this was her first World Championship race and first 70.3 distance triathlon.
BBR Optometry, based in Jemima’s hometown of Hereford, has been her official eyewear sponsor since 2018. Earlier this year, Jemima briefed BBR with her visual needs for her upcoming races, and although there would usually be a lot of great brands that would be suitable, unfortunately they were all too big for Jemima.
For BBR, the solution was simple; a bespoke pair. After a challenging brief, various trials and extensive redesigns, the result was a bespoke TD Tom Davies frame in Jemima’s race colours, which also reflect the BBR brand. The frame and lenses were designed to support her in her climb of the podium ladders at events throughout the UK and Europe.
Here she tells of the day she went from zero to 8th 18-24 AG in the world and won her own version of a gold medal:
“I was one of over 5,500 athletes racing that weekend, competing against the very best the world has to offer. 9 times World Champion, Daniella Ryf and multiple Olympians, Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez were some of the biggest stars sharing my course.
“For me, the day was an unknown. Having finished university just a few months ago; struggling with a few niggles, a bought of illness, starting a business, moving home 3 times in the 4 months and having changed my coaching team just 8 weeks prior, all we knew was this race was a chance to give everything I had and use it as a stepping stone to build up stronger, wiser, fitter and faster than ever.
“I headed to Nice two weeks pre-event to learn the ropes of the highly technical course and acclimatise to summer in the med. This holding camp was a chance to focus hard, recover well and up my hours of training. In just under two weeks out in France I clocked up over 600km on the bike and a solid bought of coastal running and sea swimming. It was tough, hot and hard work, but I loved every single sweat drop and heart pound of it. It was the push I needed to take my mind and body up a gear.
“Lining the shores of Nice Promenade De Anglaise were 2,200 women ready for action. The med looked kind, with just a gentle chop. The sun on the other hand, not so generous as we swam the last 700m home blinded by the sunrise. The entirety of the age group field had slow water times on this day - attributed to the strong swell taking us off course and the sheer number of swim hats in there! I was in a very competitive position out of the swim coming out in the front pack of swimmers.
“In the words of my coach “World Champs are not three disciplines they are 5. You can win or lose in transition too!” With this thought I sprinted through the first transition coming out with my bike in a flash that gave me one of the fastest T1 times of the day.
“Onto the bike and this was the time to get busy. I was flying! I was very much in control, in a good position on the field, confident in the race plan and ready to fight on those hills I love so much!
“What I did not anticipate though was the volume of participants. My age group began the race as wave 12 of 13, meaning around 2,000 athletes had started over 1.5hrs before us. To say the roads were packed was an understatement! Being my first World Championships I have never ridden in this kind of situation before, and trying my hardest to avoid drafting (being within 12m of the person in front) at any time made quite a difficult ride to negotiate.
“Over the first 45km of the race we ascended over 1,200m from sea level to the top of the magnificent Col de Vance and beyond.
“Now, I may not look big and strong, but one thing is for certain I have a serious power to weight ratio. I REALLY like to climb. My job on the first section was to get as far ahead as I could possibly mange with a sustainable effort. During the main 10km climb I was powering thorough the field getting to the top in one of the fastest male and female ascending times of the day.
“But the job was far from done. My coach knew it was likely I would lose my edge on the descent to those top, more experienced girls out front. So, I just had to do my best to ride at the maximum of my ability and minimise ‘damage’ on my field positioning.
“I was still very competitive into the second transition, soon to get to the part where I could fly! Again I flew through transition in one of the speediest times - thank you to BBR Optometry for my perfectly fitting sunglasses here.
The game was on.
After 90km up and down hills on two wheels, it was time to run. This is where my head is highest and eyes get set on that prize. We were going for a fast one today with my eyes set on a personal best.
“Process, process, process”
“Pain is optional”
“The two thoughts going through my head as I bounced along the coast line and powered through the field to take one of the fastest runs of the day.
“I made it in 1h 27min - I even smiled over the line and finished my day as I meant to go on!
“So I raced this magnificent, historic and legendary course in a time of 5h 07min 53sec. I took 8th position out of 110 girls in the 18-24 Age Group and 34th Amateur female overall in a world class field of 2,000 women and I was the 3rd fastest British female.
“This, of course, was not the gold medal that every athlete would wish for, and it was not the finish position that I had wanted. But on that day, it was MY gold medal performance.
“Over the last 2.5 years, my world has been shaken up, tossed, turned, tumbled and thrown on its head. But I am so grateful for every moment, as it has led me to the position I am in today.
“The future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure, this race - fighting for the prize amongst the best athletes in the world, has lit a fire so massive in my stomach that it can only take me in one direction. That way is up!
“BBR, I wanted to take this opportunity to say another huge thank you for all of your generosity, help and endless support that you have shown me right from the beginning. Without this, I truly would not be in the sporting position I am today.”
BBR Optometry is no stranger to designing and providing patients with bespoke frames and lenses for a range of sporting, leisure and professional uses, pop into our practice to find out more.
Image captions: Jemima Cooper