Alexander Bryukhankov, 2012 Olympic triathlon hopeful, has already done an average fitness freak's weekly exercise quota by Monday lunchtime. But what else does the 22-year-old Russian do with his days?
You were quite young when you began competing in triathlons. How did you discover your talent for it?
I used to go in for different sports before triathlons, and I had chosen summer polyathlon [100m swimming, airgun rifle shooting from a standing position, grenade throwing, 100m sprint running and 3000m cross-country running]. I was engaged in various competitions – running, swimming, multiathlon, military all-round etc – and then I received a proposal to take a crack at a new event: winter duathlon [swimming and running]. I always ran and swam well enough, so it had to succeed. I took fifth place in this competition. Then, in 2002, I participated in my first triathlon regional competition, where I took second place. As I ran across the finish line, the coach said, “Triathlons are your fate,” but I didn’t think that it was my fate then – it was very difficult for me. The coach was right – I got better, year-in, year-out, and in 2004, I left summer polyathlon behind. Since that time, I’ve gone in for what is now my favourite sport – triathlon.
What’s been the biggest achievement in your career so far?
I think it was my participation in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and my first podium at World Cup 2007 in South Africa. That was really unforgettable!
'On average, I swim 18–25km, cycle 200–350km and run 60–100km per week'
Which of the three triathlon disciplines (swimming/running/cycling) is your favourite?
My favourite discipline is running, as I’m very good at it. This is particularly good for triathlons, because your overall placement depends generally on how successful the running event was.
Who’s the toughest competitor you’ve faced?
The toughest competitor is myself… but I’ve competed with all world’s best athletes in my career, all of them very worthy competitors. But there are two athletes I regard perhaps as better than the others: Javier Gomez of Spain and Alistair Brownlee of England.
What kind of training regime do you have? Do you swim, run and cycle hundreds of kilometres a week, for example?
Triathletes have very hard training, sometimes two or four sessions a day. On a typical training day, I get up at about eight o’clock in the morning, and then I have breakfast. After that, I limber up a little bit and cross-cycle through the hills, usually about 50km. Right after cross-cycling, there follows 5km of power swimming. The first half of the day ends here and I have dinner. After dinner, I sleep for a couple of hours in order to recover my strength before the evening training. I get up, limber up again and run 20km cross-country through the mountains. After that, I go to the exercise room for half an hour, and that’s it. After supper, I have some free time – I read, watch TV or hang around with my friends. Then I go to bed to be fresh in the morning. On average, I swim 18–25km, cycle 200–350km and run 60–100km per week.
'Olympic gold in 2012 is my main goal for the next two to three years, and I’m working really hard for this'
How do you relax after a triathlon?
First of all, I sleep after competitions. Usually, I go home to Rybinsk [Alexander’s home city in north-western Russia] and spend time with friends and relatives, go to clubs or just go for a walk. Anything will do except triathlon!
Is winning Olympic gold in 2012 your ultimate goal?
Yes, it’s my main goal for the next two to three years, and I’m working really hard for this.
One of your hobbies is fishing. What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?
I like fishing very much, it's my main hobby – maybe because, when I go fishing, I don’t have to run or cycle! [Laughs.] The biggest fish I’ve ever caught was a perch weighing well over 1kg.
If someone made a Hollywood movie of your life, who would you want to play you?
Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler… but I’m not sure they could stand the pace.
What’s your favourite music at the moment?
I am very fond of music, but there is nothing I could call a current favourite. I just like music that is in line with my mood – mostly, it'll be the songs of my youth…
For more info on Alexander, go to triathlon.org