ERIN WALLACE admits that she has surprised even herself with her call-up to Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games, which kick-off in Gold Coast in less then two months time.
The 17-year-old from Glasgow shot to the public’s attention when she won 1500m gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games last summer but her selection for Gold Coast has, in fact, come in triathlon, in which she is also a junior internationalist.
And while her progress through the triathlon ranks has been impressive, she admits that her selection for Team Scotland came as something of a shock. “It’s such an honour and I wasn’t expecting it to be honest,” she said. “A few years ago, I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere near the Commonwealth Games so everything has happened so quickly. It’s a big confidence boost because it’s all happened really fast since the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“I don’t feel like it’s scary – although probably when I get there I’ll be a bit scared – but at the moment, it just feels really exciting. I feel like at the Youth Games has prepared me a little bit – it was like a mini version of Gold Coast so hopefully that has given me a taste of what things will be like in April.”
For Wallace, who began her sporting career as a swimmer, to combine triathlon training with athletics means that she has to contend with an especially heavy training schedule, and when you take into account that she is still a high school pupil – she is in sixth year at Eastwood High – she has little time to relax.
But rather than combining two sports being detrimental to her performance, she firmly believes that they compliment each other perfectly. “I don’t think there’s any negatives of doing both disciplines – except maybe the risk of bike crashes but that’s just something you’ve got to deal with,” she said.
“If you look at a lot of the good triathletes, they’re very, very good runners so there must be some kind of connection and I think being a good runner definitely will help me.
“I really like training for triathlon because it’s so varied. Whereas sticking to the one sport all the time it might get a bit samey so I really like having both to focus on.”
One of Wallace’s triathlon teammates in Gold Coast will be Beth Potter, who is also an Olympian having been selected for Team GB for the 10,000m for the Rio Olympics in 2016. The teenager admits that she looks up to Potter and uses her success in both athletics and triathlon as proof that it is possible to combine two sports, and do them at the highest possible level. “It’s nice to see Beth doing well at both because I’d like to continue doing both too,” the teenager said.
“People keep asking me when I’m going to pick one but I feel like I don’t want to pick just one – and if Beth can do both then I don’t see why I can’t as well. Doing both is working for me at the moment – they’re both getting better side by side so while that’s the case, I’ll keep doing both.
It does mean that I do a pretty high volume of training but running is all impact whereas swimming and cycling obviously aren’t so I feel like that takes a lot of the strain off me.”
Wallace’s selection for Team Scotland is likely to catch people’s attention who previously did not know who she was. She has, though, long been touted as an athlete with great potential. For many, this would have felt like a considerable pressure but Wallace seems entirely unaffected by any kind of expectation that may be on her shoulders. “I don’t really feel any pressure – I feel like I’ll just do what I’m doing and if it turns out well then that’s great,” she said. “And I feel like if people are putting pressure on you, that’s a good thing because it must mean that they think you’re good.”