Double success for dual career triathlete Johnson


Leeds Beckett student Calum Johnson will be celebrating this week as he graduates from his Accounting degree with first-class honours.

But it was only last weekend that the GB triathlete – who is also a talented cross country runner – was popping a cork on the podium at the European Cup in Tartu, Estonia.

And what makes Johnson’s success in the classroom even more remarkable is the fact he trains for a gruelling 30 hours per week to in order progress in the demanding sport, often managing to fit in three sessions a day.

Fortunately, the talented triathlete has been receiving TASS’ dual career support throughout his studies, from A levels to the completion of his undergraduate degree.

“I wouldn’t be in this position today without the support from TASS,” He said. “The strength and conditioning service has been a game changer!”

“I hadn’t done any before I was nominated for TASS and I was able to make myself quite robust before starting doing the volume of training I’m doing now.

“Touch wood, I’ve been relatively injury free ever since and the S&C has played a key role.

“I’ve also found the Lifestyle support really useful. It’s just having the facility to talk about any problems in the training environment if don’t want to speak to coach.

“As a complete package it’s absolutely incredible. I would happily stay on TASS forever if I could!”

Geordie Johnson currently is riding high with a succession of top results this year including his first European Cup victory and a silver medal just a couple of weeks later.

“The win in the Netherlands was a big one for me. Just to go out there and deliver in an international race was brilliant. I hope my recent performances will act as a stepping stone to start racing at world series level next year.

“I finished 12th in my first U23 World Championships and 5th in the World University Championships last year in a really good field. I felt like it was the first result where things were clicking into place for me.”


Photo credit: Graham Beardsley

The Leeds-based athlete trains at the National Triathlon Centre alongside more than 70 other world class triathletes including Tom Bishop and Non Stanford, both of whom also received TASS support during their development.

Johnson acted as Stanford’s training partner leading up to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and credits her as his biggest influence.

“Some lads would find it strange that I’m inspired by her, but it’s just the way she goes about everything, from her training to her everyday life.

“Non’s sheer determination, ability to just get on with things and her resilience to come back from toughest of knock downs shows her true class.”

Currently without a full-time coach, Johnson reveals how he is motivated to succeed by his peers, “We’re all really good friends as well as training partners,” he explained.

“When you’re out on the bike for four hours plus you don’t even realise you’re training, you just feel like you’ve been out for the day with your mates.

“There’s this little café in Burnsall on the border of the Yorkshire dales where we like to go. It’s not the fanciest but they do proper northern home cooked food.

“Sometimes we pop in during a ride to get a pie and triple cooked chips – you need it in the winter!”

As well as being a big fan of Yorkshire life, Johnson is a keen traveller and enjoys getting the opportunity to compete internationally.

“I thought Estonia and Switzerland were both lovely, especially around Geneva. I’ve also been to Brazil and the world championships last year were held in Mexico.

“We stayed in an all-inclusive hotel on the beach. I was thinking ‘are we racing or are we on holiday?’ It was the toughest conditions I’ve competed in though – about 38 degrees and 90% humidity.”

Despite the excitement of travelling to exotic destinations and the promise of gold medals, Johnson remains grounded and quite pragmatic about his future.

“My Accounting degree has been a massive part my career so far. I think it’s important to have other focusses away from triathlon.

“Training full time is quite strenuous and can be overwhelming sometimes. For me, spending four years studying alongside elite sport has helped me mature massively. Uni gives you the chance to develop so many skills and attributes you can take forward in life.

“Hopefully in a few years the Brownlees will give the next generation a chance to step up, you never know! But in the meantime I’ll continue to train hard to be as I can to be as good as I can be.”

Craig Robinson, Sport Student Support Coordinator at Leeds Beckett University said: “It’s great to see that the support Calum is getting here has contributed to his recent success.

“Our athlete support staff are really pleased for Calum as his achievements are even more remarkable given some of the challenges he has faced whilst with us.”