Checking Olympics, and other items, off my bucket list

USA’s Serena Williams celebrates after beating Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the Women’s Singles Tennis gold medal match at Wimbledon, Centre Court for the London 2012 Olympics in London, England on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News)

Julie Jag

Gabby Douglas, 15, sat in a conference room, surrounded by reporters and Olympic officials with at least 20 years on her. One dusted off the cobwebs and mustered the saliva to ask Douglas, who days earlier became the first African American girl to win the gold medal in the gymnastics individual all-around competition, what she expected the impact of her historic victory to be.
“I’ve always wanted to inspire people,” replied Douglas, as she held court over the group.
“The thing about the Olympics, [there’s] this quote you see: ‘Inspire a Generation.’ You know, now I can check that off my bucket list.”
That moment near the end of my expedition into covering my first Olympics got me thinking about bucket lists. I hadn’t ever really made a physical list of the things I wanted to experience in life, nor taken an inventory. But Douglas’ remarks unlocked a mental file I had apparently stored away in the recesses of my brain. Attending the Olympics in an official capacity was right near the front.
While in the process of fulfilling that wish over the past month, though, I got the opportunity to places checkmarks next to several other life experiences — some of which I didn’t even realize were in the bucket until I’d experienced them for myself. This is the short list:
Serena Williams wins gold with authority
Whatever the reason, this stands out as one the highlights of my Olympic experience. Part of it can be explained by the intimate confines of Wimbledon’s Centre Court, where an entire crowd of 15,000 can share in an inside joke like friends at a dinner party. Part of it related to Williams’ demeanor, more powerful and amped up than ever in her 6-0, 6-1 dismantling of Russia’s Maria Sharapova. What really made it memorable, though, were the post-match antics — Williams dancing on the grass in excitement over her gold-medal performance and the American flag fluttering to the ground in the midst of the national anthem.
USA women’s soccer team gets revenge on Japan
This moment also had more to do with the building and buildup than the game itself. The USA and Japan entered with a tense history, especially from the Americans’ point of view. We were on the losing end of the same matchup for the Women’s World Cup championship in a game that went down to penalty kicks. The USA women made no bones about wanting revenge, plus they had barely escaped Canada in their semifinal. That led to the teams packing 80,200 vocal, flag-waving, sign-hoisting fans — an Olympic record for a women’s game — into Wembley, already one of the world’s iconic soccer venues.
The teams made the game almost as riveting as the anticipation. It was a close, well-played contest full of skillful shots and a couple rub-your-eyes-in-amazement saves by Hope Solo. As far as memories go, of course, it didn’t hurt that the USA came out on top.
Watching the fastest man alive with my own eyes (and seeing him be too slow to escape a gaggle of autograph seeking reporters)
Twice I headed to Olympic stadium to see Usain Bolt prove, again, he’s the fastest man alive. The first time I completed my own sprint, weaving through the thick crowds in my wedged sandals as I tried to get from the jam-packed Stratford train station to the stadium before the 100-meter final. When I got there, I was told the press seating was full. I’m more stubborn than that, though, so I sneaked into the back of an open-air broadcast booth and knelt down until the gun went off. Bolt finished not 100 feet from where I stood, the clear winner, albeit in a close race.
I thought about waiting around to hear his reaction in the press conference. One look at all the time he took “bolting” around the track and the long line of broadcast outlets waiting to interview him, and I figured it would be midnight and he would be exhausted, before the lowly print media got their time with him. Little did I know he planned to stay up until 3 a.m. celebrating with members of the Swedish handball team.
The second time I saw him may have been his last Olympic race. He was gunning for a trifecta by adding the 4×100 to his golds in the 100 and 200. Luckily, I was already at the stadium to cover the women’s 800 final and had snagged a nearly front-row seat. The seat became even better when I discovered that to my right sat an amicable reporter for the London paper The Sun, who happened to be a veritable expert on Bolt, having just finished writing a biography on the runner.
The race was riveting. Team USA and Jamaica quickly emerged as the leaders, but the chance of disaster cropped up at every handoff [in fact, the third-place Canadian team was disqualified for an illegal one]. It came down to the final leg, with the USA’s Ryan Bailey and Jamaica’s Bolt — who doesn’t usually run the anchor leg — taking the batons at the same time. But in a head-to-head footrace, Olympic rookie Bailey, who took fifth in the open 100, couldn’t keep up. Bolt not only broke the tape first, but had the consciousness of mind to immediately form an “M” atop his head in tribute to his friend and adored British distance runner Mo Farah, a two-time gold medalist in London.
The press conference that followed more than an hour later proved with the wait. In fact, it might have been more of a spectacle than the actual race. In it, Bolt’s relay teammate Yohan Blake said of the team: “We are not normal guys. We are from space, I am from Mars.” In a more bizarre outburst, “journalists” from around the globe asked Bolt everything from how did he expect to live a normal life now that, as they put it, he is “truly and by far the greatest athlete to ever live” to whether he would tweet a picture if he found himself in the company of Norwegian women’s handball players that night. As the capper, at least a dozen of these “journalists” rushed the stage after the conference to ask for autographs, while the rest of us cringed.
Feeling the bond of beach volleyball’s gold medal winners (even as the floor falls out from under them)
Standing on top of the podium together for the third time in as many Olympics, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor still couldn’t hold back the tears during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The best known beach volleyball players in the world went out on top, and this time they did it the hard way.
Life had changed so much for the two of them since winning in Athens and Beijing — two kids for Walsh, an Achilles injury for May-Treanor — that they needed couples therapy to get through it. Like any relationship worth fighting for, though, the tests only brought them closer, and that was clear in their cooperation on the court.
It was illustrated even more not 30 minutes after the medal ceremony, when they found themselves on rock-bottom once again. Actually, it was plywood bottom.
The floor of the packed “mixed zone” interview area collapsed under the weight of the unexpected mass of reporters who showed up to cover a sport they could no longer ignore now that the duo had hammered harder than one of Walsh’s spikes into the national spotlight. Walsh managed to hop to level ground and she quickly helped her teammate out of the hole she’d fallen into.
Hey, what are partners for?
“The bond we have and understanding we have for each other is so special,” May-Treanor said. “Kerri said it a couple of times, the first two medals, I think it was more volleyball. The friendship we had was there, but it was all volleyball, volleyball. This was so much more about the friendship, the togetherness, the journey, and volleyball was just a small part of it.”
Holding a historic Olympic medal
The Olympics revolves around medals — those who get one and those who don’t. Still, it didn’t occur to me to want to get a close look at one until Abby Johnston, half of the duo that won silver in 3-meter synchronized diving competition, noted how heavy her hardware was during a post-win interview.
How heavy is it? This question led to one of my coolest first-person experiences. There is something magical about a medal, even a silver one. They’re a piece of art and yes, they are heavy. In fact, they weigh about 14 ounces.
Somehow, though, they carry more weight when put into perspective. It was the United States’ first medal in synchronized diving since it became a sport in 2000.
Experiencing the pride of a country (or what moved Mo Farah)
All we heard heading into London for the Olympics was what a disaster they were going to be. The masses weren’t happy about having to pay for these frivolous stadiums and improvements to the train system, especially during an economic downturn. Then, once we got there, they weren’t happy about being turned away while empty seats glared at them from the TV screen. Making matters much worse, several days of competition passed without the Brits bringing home a single gold. Panic started to set in.
But on Day 6, a couple of female rowers broke the golden spell for the host country. Three days later, local darling Jessica Ennis nearly brought down Olympic stadium when she won the heptathlon. It bolstered the Brits’ the national spirit, uniting them in ways even they didn’t expect. When the medals started piling up, each one dusted off a little more pride. Londoners even started talking to each other on the subway, which apparently never happens.
By the time Mo Farah raced to victory in the 5,000 on the eve of the close of the Games, the country practically glowed with glory. They sent the Somali runner — considered by many a true symbol of the nations-uniting purpose of the Games — and the Olympics out with ear-rattling cheers that clanged through the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium.
Nice thing was, when they weren’t cheering for the home team, they respectfully applauded and lauded outstanding athletes from other countries, even the big, bad USA.

Categories: Archery, Athletes, Badminton, Beach Volleyball, Bevan Docherty, Boxing, Cycling, Events, Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics, Kerri Walsh, Olympics, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Track & Field Events, Triathlon, Volleyball | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Olympic photos: Day 12, Bevan Docherty and the Men’s Triathlon

Got up extra early this morning so I could wait at a good spot for the men’s triathlon. I had scoped out an area while I was at the women’s triathlon where you could see the swim, bike, and run from roughly the same spot. It was a valiant effort to get there, but alas, I didn’t make it in time. Granted, I was still 2 1/2 hours early, but all the spots around the swim and running area were gone, so I camped out by a nice Spanish couple along the cycling route. It was tough to find Santa Cruz’s Bevan Docherty at first since I was clicking away with the camera for the first lap. I finally spotted him on lap 3 and tried to focus on just him. I’ll tell you though, those guys move fast. When the cycling was finished I ran over to where I thought I might get to see some running, but security had blocked access to the area because there were already too many people there. I tried to walk in one way with a few other people but we were quickly pushed back. That’s when I used my impressive movie knowledge to my advantage.

Have you seen “The Paper” with Michael Keaton? Great little film for anyone interested in newspapers and journalism. In the film, he said, “A clipboard and a confident wave can get you into any building in the world.” Well I didn’t have a clipboard, but I did have a media pass (NOTE: This is not a credential to get me access to anyplace special, it just has my name and says MEDIA because I am with Julie in a secure location for our stay). So I went near a different security person and flashed my worthless media pass and confidently waved as I walked by. He had a confused look on his face, then just waved as he held other people back. It’s not like I really went anywhere I wasn’t supposed to, it was a free area, just a crowded free area.

Armed with a new confidence I tried to squeeze myself into a location where I could see some runners go by but these weren’t security people I was trying to get in front of, these were people who had been waiting longer than the 2 1/2 hours I had been waiting. They weren’t moving for the Pope, let alone a photographer. I was able to stand on my tiptoes to see between two people’s heads to get a few shots, which I don’t recommend unless you have very strong calves … I don’t.

Docherty didn’t win, but it was great to see Great Britain get so pumped for the Gold and Bronze winning Brownlee brothers. And the Spaniard Javier Gomez got Silver, so I know my new Spanish friends are excited.

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Bevan Docherty 12th in his final Olympic triathlon

Santa Cruz resident Bevan Docherty races for his native New Zealand during the men’s Olympic triathlon ay Hyde Park on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 in London. Docherty finished in 12th place. (Anthony L. Solis/Santa Cruz Sentinel)


LONDON – Bevan Docherty didn’t add gold to his Olympic medal collection, but in many ways he still went out on top.

Docherty, a Santa Cruz resident racing for his native New Zealand in the men’s triathlon Tuesday, did nothing to sully his reputation as one of the most accomplished racers in the sport at the Games. He finished 12th overall in 1 hour, 48 minutes, 35 seconds, a mere 2:10 behind Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain, a heavy pre-race favorite who ran away with the gold. Javier Lopez of Spain took the silver [1:46:36] and Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain claimed the bronze [1:46:56], delighting a mostly Brit crowd of an estimated 500,000 fans.

“Obviously I would have liked to complete the set of medals, but as you can see, the sport is getting faster and those three guys at the front are just dominating,” Docherty said. “But at the end of the day, considering where I’m at, I’m relatively happy.”

Where Docherty is at is age 35, one of the oldest racers on the start list, and a father of three. He’s also one of two athletes to have won two Olympic triathlon medals – the most in the sport. At Hyde Park, Docherty wrapped up his Olympics career proving he’s still one of the best.

He was the top finisher out of the three Kiwis and bested both Americans Hunter Kemper and Manny Huerta. Kemper finished 14th [1:48:46] and Huerta came up with an injury and took 51st [1:53:39] in the 55-athlete pool.

“Maybe they’ll wheel me out in a wheelchair for Rio,” joked Kemper, 36, who said he hasn’t ruled out trying to make the 2016 Olympic team. If he did, he would be the only triathlete to compete in all five Olympic triathlons since the sport became part of the Games in 2000.

Docherty, on the other hand, long ago decided this would be his final Olympic race. Wanting to spend more time with his growing family, he plans to transition to longer distance racing with an eye on winning the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, one day.

That’s what made this one of Docherty’s more emotional races. Not only would it be his last Olympic race, but he got to tackle it in front of a family that includes two new faces – daughter McKenna, 3, and son Fletcher, less than a year. Docherty hadn’t seen them for nearly a month as he trained for the race, but gave them a big wave when he saw them in the stands as he set his bike up in the transition zone Tuesday morning.

“It’s weird to think this is the last one,” said Docherty’s wife, Cheryl. “He’s ranked 12th [in the world] and he finished 12th in 2012, so it’s going to be easy to remember.”

Docherty hoped his legacy would be remembered more than this final race.

“I’m still the only person to win medals back to back, and I’m quite proud of that,” Docherty said.

Docherty, a native of Taupo, New Zealand, made his Olympic debut in 2004 at age 27. Soon to be crowned the International Triathlon Union champion, he wound up taking silver behind gold-winning teammate Hamish Carter. In Beijing, on a course that suited him better than London’s flat, fast track, he took the bronze. Canada’s Simon Whitfield came from behind to take silver that year and Jan Frodeno of Germany sealed the Gold.

On Tuesday, Frodeno was in fourth after the second transition, but ended up sixth [1:47:26] overall. Meanwhile Whitfield – a four-time Olympian and the only man with as many triathlon medals as Docherty — dropped out of the race shortly after the start of the bike because of a mechanical problem.

In comparison, Docherty raced nearly flawlessly.

He came out of the balmy 66-degree Serpentine from the 1.5-kilometer swim in 23rd place, but a quick transition jettisoned him up to 15th. That’s where he stayed for the majority of the seven laps around Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch and the Serpentine during the 43k bike ride, in which the Brownlees’ teammate Stuart Hayes set the pace.

Several teams tried to attack and take the lead away from Great Britian, but those efforts were squashed. When the athletes entered the transition into the 10k run, Docherty knew – even as he slipped on his Day-Glo orange trainers – that the race had practically already been decided. To his credit, he raced hard anyway, picking off eight runners on his way to the finish line.

“It became obvious pretty early on that those guys were rockets,” he said. “but I wanted to  put it out there.”

Indeed, Alistair Brownlee pushed the pace, running just over a second slower than the gold medalist in the 10k had run at Olympic Park a few days prior – and that was with him slowing to collect a British flag and lope with it wrapped around his shoulders to the finish. He said he didn’t run hard for his own good, but to secure a medal for his little brother, who was issued a 15-second penalty for mounting his bike too soon.

Docherty slowed a little too, smiling and even waving he ran down the finish line chute toward his final Olympic moment.

It may not have been Docherty’s best race, but it was a race for the history books.

“He’s a legend,” beamed Docherty’s 15-year-old son Scott, 15, a Pacific Coast Charters student. “He’s a hall-of-famer.”

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Alternate Reality: Aptos triathlete Matt Charbot so close yet so far from Olympics


LONDON – For the past two weeks, Matt Charbot has enveloped himself in preparations for today’s Olympic men’s triathlon.
He’s put in extra long hours running, biking and swimming with his teammates at the Team USA training camp in Guildford, about an hour’s train ride from the city. He’s bypassed fish and chips for the healthy team food, attended team meetings and stayed sequestered in the team hotel. On Monday morning, he was even directed by his coaches to get mentally prepared to race.
Yet, when the starting gun goes off this morning, the new Aptos transplant will be on his own, abandoned to watch with the crowds on the other side of the barriers as his training partners Hunter Kemper and Miguel Huerta race around Hyde Park.
Such is the torturous reality of an alternate: all the work of an Olympic athlete, none of the glory.
“I’m not getting any experience. It’s just an awkward vacation,” said Charbot, 29. “It’s not even a vacation; it’s an awkward business trip.”
Every Olympics, hundreds of elite athletes find themselves in the same position as Charbot. They are the stop gap, brought over by their countries and asked to keep in top shape just in case an Olympic teammate can’t make it to the starting line.
For some, the reserve position provides the perfect opportunity to experience the Olympics without the pressure to perform. Then, ideally, they can use that experience to improve their chances if they actually get to the starting line four years later.
For others, it’s simply sadistic.
Team USA archer Jake Kaminski said filling in as an alternate for the Beijing Olympics helped steel him for his London 2012 campaign, where the men’s team took silver.
“It didn’t really bother me that much at that time. The full process was I went from last in trials and not even making the first cut to getting in and making the alternate spot,” Kaminski said last week. “That was a really a big achievement for me. I was in a lot different place in my training and a lot different mindset.”
For others, the process can be painful. At the start of the London 2012 Games, artistic gymnastics alternate Anna Li fell at the U.S. Olympic team’s training site in Birmingham and tore ligaments in her neck while training for an event she was never expected to compete in.
And that’s just physical pain. Emotionally, Charbot said, it’s the cruelest form of torture. He puts in the same training and can keep pace with Huerta and Kemper. Yet whereas they get the royalty treatment when it comes to gear, access to events and sponsorship deals, he gets left out in the cold.
“I think it’s tough,” said USA Triathlon high performance manager Andy Schmitz. “He’s an unofficial part of the delegation. He has no credentials, no access to the venues, he can’t [even] get into the athletes village as a resident. It takes a tough person to buck up and do it. Hopefully he’s getting a taste of what Olympics are all about and that serves as additional motivation for him.”
Charbot said the experience serves as more of a constant reminder of how close he came to becoming an actual Olympian. Charbot spent most of the last two years as the top American on the International Triathlon Union circuit and believed he had all but punched his ticket to the Games.
“If I was one of those guys who was a long shot for making the team and an alternate, I would be stoked, honored,” Charbot said. “But a year ago I envisioned I would be part of the Olympics — not hoping I would make the team, just kind of assuming I would make the team.”
For the first time since triathlon became an Olympic sport in 2000, though, the United States didn’t automatically qualify to send the maximum three competitors in the men’s race. Then, during the ITU San Diego race that served as the Team USA individual trials – where the top American and any U.S. finisher within the top nine would earn an Olympic spot — Charbot imploded with a 34th-place finish. Meanwhile, veteran Kemper sealed a spot on his fourth Olympic team by finishing fifth behind race winner and Olympic gold medal favorite Jonathan Brownlee. Huerta then came out of nowhere to finish ninth and seize the final qualifying berth.
A USA Triathlon discretionary committee later named Charbot the alternate.
Charbot said Kemper and Huerta turned down the option to race in another ITU event and possibly secure the U.S. a third Olympic berth, which may have been helpful in the 43-kilometer cycling portion of today’s draft-legal race, which also includes a 1.5k swim and a 10k run. While he thinks he would have been given that third spot, he doesn’t hold a grudge against his teammates.
“At the end of the day, it’s my fault. I didn’t make the team,” he said.
Still, he’s looking forward to getting past today’s race and focusing on the next time he’ll actually step up to the starting line. He says that will be at the ITU Sprint Championships in Stockholm on Aug. 26, where he’ll be joined by fellow Aptos-area triathlete Tommy Zaferes, a 2016 Olympic hopeful.
“I just want it to be over,” Charbot said. “I just want it to be next Monday.”

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Triathlete Bevan Docherty ‘Inspiring a Generation’ after move to Santa Cruz

New Zealand triathlete Bevan Docherty relaxes at his Santa Cruz, CA home Sunday, July 8, 2012 where he trains. Docherty won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Anthony L. Solis/Sentinel)


LONDON – Bevan Docherty had no intention to “Inspire a Generation” – the official slogan for the 2012 Olympics – when he set out to qualify for these Games in men’s triathlon.
Known as a solitary man, Docherty had zeroed in on two goals:
A) He wanted to become a member of his third New Zealand Olympic triathlon team.
B) He wanted to put himself in position to win the gold, which, when added to the silver he won in 2004 and and bronze he won in ’08, would make him the only triathlete with a complete set.
Being a role model to a couple of fresh-faced kids 10 years his junior didn’t necessarily fit into his plans.
Yet at least two young Olympic-caliber racers credit Docherty for altering their careers. Win the men’s triathlon in Hyde Park on Tuesday, and he could alter the sport and “Inspire a Generation” of triathletes to move to sea-level training grounds like Santa Cruz.
“Bevan is a huge influence in my life at how committed and driven he is,” wrote Tommy Zaferes, an Aptos native and Rio 2016 hopeful, in an email. “How he can train so hard, and still be a solid family man. That’s a tough double!”
Endurance athletes stereotypically flock to high altitude bases to train for big event. Docherty went against the stream. Looking for warmer winters and a lower elevation than Boulder, Colo., where he had been living during his 2008 Olympic campaign, he and his wife, Cheryl, flew into LAX airport late in 2009, hopped in a car and started driving up the coast in search of a new home for what would eventually be a family of five.
“We stopped in Monterey for the night and we were all excited, thinking this could be it,” Docherty said from his Westside home. “Then when we woke up, it was all fogged in. As soon as we drove in to Santa Cruz, we knew this was it.”
Docherty could check off all his boxes in Santa Cruz. It is near a major airport, is big enough in size but small enough in feel, has good training terrain and, being on the coast, is at sea level. Docherty, who hails from Taupo, New Zealand, believed he could train more vigorously at sea level than at altitude. He could, likewise, get the benefits of living at altitude – more oxygen carried in the bloodstream – simply by sleeping in a high-altitude tent, which he and Cheryl do nightly.
That thought pairs with results of a study out of Oxford, where he and the rest of the New Zealand team have been stationed during the Olympics. It has also caught on with Matt Chrabot, the alternate for the USA triathlon team and the top-ranked American on the International Triathlon Union circuit, who moved from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Aptos in June.
“It was too much and too stressful,” Chrabot, said of living in the mountains. “I push myself really, really hard and after a while my body couldn’t take it. It kind of broke me down, and I was like I’ve got to find a sea level training location that I can train at all year long.”
On Docherty’s advice, he chose the Santa Cruz area.
“I just met Bevan [at a race] and Bevan’s like, ‘Come out and train with us, we’ve got Tommy Zafares and [Ironman standout] Paul Matthews,’” Chrabot, 29, recalled. “Tommy and I started talking on Facebook and I said I’m going to come out and train with you guys.”
That made quite the band of merry three-sport men. But again, that wasn’t Docherty’s intention.
Docherty set the wheels in motion by contacting Zaferes shortly after he moved his family to town, but he mostly he was looking for a swimming partner. Zaferes began his competitive career as an Olympic-hopeful swimmer who lined up next to multi-medal Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte during national competitions and at the 2008 Olympic swimming trials. When an ill-timed cold derailed that dream, he had returned to Santa Cruz to coach a club team and dabble in triathlon.
“When I first talked to Bevan and swam with him, I didn’t really know who he was,” Zaferes wrote. “I had only competed in a few triathlons at this point, and only after other people were like, ‘Dude, he’s not just a good triathlete from New Zealand, he’s a two time Olympic medalist!’ was I like, ‘Whoa, sweet!’”
After a few months of helping Docherty improve his swim times, Zaferes joined him for a couple of bike training rides. That initial effort didn’t go well.
“I crashed on our second ride together in 2009, and was definitely not at a point in my career where I was able to keep up with him,” Zaferes wrote. “After that ride I didn’t really start training with him again until the middle of 2011.”
In the meantime, Zaferes improved his bike skills and Docherty started his push to make his third New Zealand Olympic team in the Olympic-distance [1.5 kilometer swim, 40k bike and 10k run] event.
The road would have a few more twists this time around. Not only had Docherty, 35, aged four years since Beijing, but he and Cheryl added two more children – McKenna and Thatcher – to their brood, giving them three in all. He didn’t qualify to the Kiwi team as early as he had in the past, which meant he had to spend more time worrying about getting in than preparing for the Games. In addition to all of that, he dropped his coach, deciding to go it alone less than a year before the Games.
“The past few years have not been ideal and I wanted to change it up a bit,” he said. “It’s kind of scary to change it up in an Olympic year. But, you can keep going down the same path and hope things change or you can switch it up. I have that kind of personality that I struggle to trust anyone else.”
But Docherty began to trust Zaferes as a training partner. As the fledgling triathlete developed into a more capable racer and started plotting his own path to the Olympics, Docherty stepped up as a sounding board. That was especially true after Zaferes also decided to go without his coach – 2004 triathlete and Santa Cruz High graduate Victor Plata — a decision he said Docherty had no hand in.
Zaferes had been desperately trying to latch onto a spot on the USA team bound for London, but everything would have had to go right and then some for him to do it. Instead, Docherty suggested he pace himself for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and in the meantime gain experience racing the European circuits.
“I know when I qualified for the Olympics, I was ready. It came naturally. A lot of others force the issue, went before they should have and end up 30th or 20th,” Docherty said. “My first year [in 2004], I won the World Cup, the World Championships and an Olympic medal.
“Going into the Olympics, my dream was to win an Olympic medal. In hindsight, it should have been to win the gold, but I can’t beat myself up over it. It was still a bloody good race.”
This time around, gold is the only goal for Docherty. He will be relying on experience to help him overcome British favorites Alistar and Jonathan Brownlee and a flat London course that’s not especially suited to him.
But after his move to Santa Cruz, he feels he’s in a good position. And whether he planned it or not, he’s already inspired a generation of Santa Cruz triathletes to continue his Olympics legacy.
“It actually surprised me that more top athletes weren’t here,” he said, “but they all seem to be starting to come.”
Racetime is 11:30 a.m. BST Tuesday (3:30 a.m. PDT — will be aired live on NBC)

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Olympic photos: Day 9

Women’s triathlon

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