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Looking for Clues - Loretta Harrop story

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

trisutto triathlon Loretta Harrop Brett Sutton World Champion attitude

Well it's been a while since I wrote my last one not because of any procrastination, but, the notes I should have and wanted to write, would not have been well received by either side of the readership. Yes, some love this forum because we tell it how it is, or for the most part, as be it pro or be it age grouper, as big Jack said to fairy boy Tom you want the truth, you want the truth? Well the truth is you can't handle the truth.

So, I think on the positives, weigh it up against the negatives, and decide to say nothing. Hawaii? 2h48 for men and Chrissie 3h04 I say nothing.

I did go to Australia to do some work and I spent 3 days with a former great, Loretta Harrop, thee of little triathlon ability but huge on courage and attitude. Well if we thought Miss Harrop would have mellowed in her retirement, my family was sadly mistaken. At the gate, a six pack rippling with a pretty smile was there to greet us, then to business, giving it to me about how soft a coach I had become.

She said many things all true but she skewered me with this one in particular: "I bet you sunk to the level of telling them just do your best, and all that shit, haven't you, come on tell me the truth?"​

And so the interrogation went on:

"What shit, I remember you telling me on a bright day in late 96 you want to win? Then your best is not good enough because you don't have the talent, so wake up girl, you want to be World Champion? Doing your best just won't cut it here with me.

I became World Champion in '99 because I believed you and you taught me never to be satisfied with my best."

"Look at them boys you've got. A disgrace, I bet you don't drill on them like you do the girls, I can tell looking at the results, I saw you doing that when we were about finished, advising them and letting them do what they think. Well it's obvious they think shit. You have become boy babysitter while you really coach the girls. Tell me I am wrong."

I sat there like a boy with a dunces cap on. I thought, I will move on to how are your kids? But like a diving mezzerschmitt in a dog fight the ach ach guns were still firing:

"What about these girls of today?"​

"What do you mean Loretta?"​ I asked.

"Well they had me commentate at the World Champs, what are they about?

I was interviewing the 2nd girl from Sweden, and I tried to be soft because I thought she would be very, very hurt. I said:

you must be a little disappointed to run 2nd and she burst out, no it's the happiest day of my life, I never thought I could beat Emma.

I nearly dropped the mike. She raced the whole way and never gave one dig at her, just kept looking behind. I was dumbfounded so I shut down the interview, and gave the mike to the producer, I need 5 minutes to work out what I am going to say to the 3rd girl.

Once I come good, she gave me the same answer and looked like she was levitating. I just said happy for you well done, and gave the mike back for good this time, and said "this interview caper is not for me. Find someone else."​

"Are they insane? Emma Snowsill is lost for motivation the Portuguese bird must have grown up, and these girls are happy to get slapped by a 3rd rate Emma, coach, you should go back there, as they all forgot about what it's all about."​

"And what's that Loretta"​ I asked, "Winning, you win or you lose you taught me that."

So as she cleared the table and her hubby winked at me and went to get drinks, my wife, no less, lent across the table and said, "Honey, it must be nice to sit with a real champion again, it's easy to see why she was great. We have forgotten how it used to be in camp, I remember when I first met you and I would go to every session. I would hide in a car because it was war, every day war. They pounded each other, they snarled at each other, the boys ran together like Kenyans and smashed each other I was scared by the intensity, but your group won everything, now, it's so different, she is right, you have changed. Maybe you don't win much any more with the boys, but I like the atmosphere better."

Now if I didn't know my baby better, I would think she is rubbing salt into the wounds Loretta had just slashed and opened up, but I know she doesn't think like that, she was just reassuring me.

My new mantra was better for all except the real winners. So we were to leave the next morning. The one that does nothing now except raise 2 kids was doing the breakfast as I wobbled to the table. "You look fresh kid," I say, "Yeah went for a walk and had a shower."​ Her hubby barked "Yeah about 15 km like a lunatic with her stress fractured legs, that's nothing" he piped in as a mock slap at his girl that he adores.

Yes Loretta Harrop has mellowed some, and on the way out, "Love you coach, sorry I couldn't help you with anything. Don't take so long to come back now you hear?"

Oh Loretta I hear, I just wish I had 20 others there to hear. But I digressed.

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