Congratulations, Rachel, you made at the Olympics in Tokio a fantastic 4th place, with only 2:12 minutes behind the winner, Flora Duffy. Do you feel satisfied?
Yes, absolutely! A couple of years ago my big goal was to get on the podium, but I knew Tokyo was going to be difficult. I knew it was maybe a bit to far to reach, but I wanted to try it. The past two years have been very difficult for me, with Covid and also my mother passed away last year because she was very sick. I myself got some physical health problems this year. It was not easy to get to the Olympics. So becoming 4th at the end, was really great and I was very happy with it. I never have been this close to the podium before.
I'm very sorry for your loss. In Tokyo the Race was 15 minutes late in pouring rain. I think the conditions were extremely demanding. After all, the rain provided some cooling, was that helpful for your race?
Yes, I was very much prepared for the heat and I always tell myself that I race well when it is really hot. The hotter it is, the better for me. When they said, it's going to rain, I thought, oh no, not rain! Really, I like it when it's hot. But my coach said, you have done really well in the rain before, so you can also do well this time. I believed him ... In the end the conditions were okay, it was not very cold and not super hot either.
But the course was wet. So it might have been dangerous for you on the bike?
It was a bit weird, because we don't ride in the wet a lot. That was not, what we expected. I was very careful in the corners and especially on the last lap I told myself, Rachel, one more lap and then you can start running. You cannot crash anymore. I kept telling myself that I could do this. I could stay on my bike and finish this bike part.
And luckily you made it. But did you feel perfectly prepared for this tough competition with 1.5 km of swimming, 40 km of cycling and 10 km of running?
The last couple of weeks before the Olympics, I went to a training camp were I started to feel better and improving more. So these weeks were very important for me, because I got more confidence in what I was doing in training. We got used to the Corona situation, I got used to dealing with some other things, but I was happy that the Olympics were postponed for one year. Last year I wouldn't probably have done so well.
These Olympic Games were different because of the pandemic, you mentioned it. Did you miss the spectators at the Tokyo-Race?
It was funny, because I thought, that there would be really no spectators, but when we were racing, there were actually a couple of people on the course and I thought, a couple of people are better than nothing, so I was a bit surprised and happy. If you want to win a race, then you are the one who needs to makes it happen. You need to do it yourself. Of course it's nicer when there are many spectators because it gives a more special feeling, but it didn’t change the result. This time it didn't feel like the normal Olympics, but you just have to deal with it.
What is the secret of your strength? I mean, where do you get the power from?
If you want something, you must be willing to work hard for it and you must be willing to fight for it. I always say that I do a lot of races a year and I can not always go all out, I can not always give everything I have. So sometimes – like now at the Olympics – if you have one dream, you have to work really hard for it and you have to give everything in the race. I think, that day at the Olympics, that was my strength, to race as hard as I could from the start till the finish and literally give everything.
You succeeded very well! How many races do you do per year or season?
Because of Corona, things are different. A lot of races didn't happen. I actually haven't counted them yet, but this year I do probably about 12 races, which is not so many.
How much do you train per day/week? (And all disciplines every day?)
On monday normally – if we take a standard training week at home – I do some gym and swim, on tuesday, wednesday and thursday I swim, bike and run, all three, and on friday I do the same as on monday, gym and swim. On saturday I do all three and on sunday I do bike and run. I train everyday, except for when we are on a holiday or when we are travelling.
So how many hours is it per day or week and did you have to increase your training schedule for the Olympics?
It depends on where I am in the season. If I am fully training like for the Olympics I train between 25 and 28 hours per week. If I do some easier training when I'm not preparing for a big race or being in a training camp, it will probably be 23 or 25 hours. I never really count my training hours.
In which competitions besides the Olympics do you want to take part in future times? (Ironman Hawaii perhaps?)
Well, I really don't know yet. Before the Olympics I didn’t know yet what I wanted to do: I might get too old or maybe I'm up to do something else. Now, with the Olympics passed, I think I might want to keep racing, but I don't know exactly yet what type of racing. Long or short distance, I still need to think about that.
So is it like a little break after the Olympics?
Yes, first I want to make sure that I do the races I like doing. For example the Bundeliga-Races in Germany. I didn't do them since 2019, but I really like them so I would like doing them again. I also would like to do some more of the national races.
What does success mean to you?
Success can be seen in two different ways. You can see it only as performance. For example to get on the podium or reach a specific goal. You can also see success as being an example for other people, help them out with questions they have or show them that, if they really want to achieve something and really do their best maybe there is a chance to achieve their dreams. For me it's definitely a mixture of both. Imagine I would win all the races, but I still don’t feel happy or I feel that I don't contribute to the happiness of other people. That doesn’t feel like success to me.
And how important is the equipment to you?
Equipment is very important. I often tell people that you don't always need the most expensive equipment, but you need the equipment which is the best for you. I'm sponsored by a local bike brand and they have been supporting me for a lot of years. That's very important for me. Also, B&W International is super important for me. That I have a good quality bikecase I can trust. It's super strong, so I can go to the races without needing to worry that something breaks.
Did you take a second bike to Tokyo?
In the past I took two bicycles to the races, but now I have the B&W-bikecase. It is so strong, that I never ever had problems with my bike. This time I took only one bike, because I knew it would be perfectly fine to only bring one.
You use the bike guard curv from B&W. Is it easy to handle?
Yes, absolutely. Building up the bikecase is super easy, most is already done. Also packing it and carrying the case around at the airport is very easy. It is a good size, I can pull it on its wheels. Usually I travel with the bikecase, a normal suitcase and my handluggage. The hand luggage I can carry or put on the top of my bikecase and roll it around. That's no problem. More important for me is, that it's not only easy to handle, but I can trust on it. The B&W-one is literally the best one you can have.
How long can you use one?
I have used my B&W case for a couple of years and it's still perfectly fine. However, they recently gave me a new one because we travel so much. It must stand a lot of throwing around, especially on air travel.
Sounds like the case fits you perfectly. You are strong, so is it ... But how important is this sponsorship to you? (I can imagine that your equipment costs a lot of money and that you as a triathlete don't exactly make a lot of money, can you?)
For me it is most important to work with brands I really like and I can really support. So it's nice working together with some companies. I am very lucky that a lot of my equipment is sponsored, so I don't need to worry about finance if I need something new. I'm very thankful for that.
But still I wonder if you can live from your sports?
Yeah, well, we are lucky enough. We have the races and if I do well I get some money. Most sponsors support us financially. So we have a couple of sponsors which help us with products, a couple of sponsors which help us with products and finance and we have sponsors who only help us financially. Everyone helps us in their best way, to make sure we can make a living out of it.
What are your plans for the next couple of weeks?
We will start the superleague races and we will be racing every weekend. We start in London, followed by München, Jersey and Malibu.
Oh, wow! That's really a lot of travelling ... Thankyou, Rachel, we wish you all the best for your future competitions!
About Rachel Klamer
Rachel Klamer was born in 1990 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The 30 year old is a Dutch professional triathlete who competed for the Netherlands in Tokyo her third Olympics, finishing London in 36th in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 10th in 2016. Klamer entered the national and international stage in 2008 when she won both the National Triathlon Championships (Junior) in Aalsmeer and the Duathlon Championships (Junior) in Oss, placed 4th in the European Junior Cup at Holten, and, at the age of 17, also started to compete in the elite category, placing 10th in the British Corus Elite Series.