Eloise du Luart on her way to victory in the triathlon in Canada. photo: Eloise du Luart

Tri-ed and tested: this brilliant Du-o

University flatmates are guaranteed to share some extraordinary memories. Be it a culinary faux-pas or alcohol-related mishaps, housemates often develop inextricable bonds with each other.

For finalists Charlotte Taylor (MORSE) and Eloise du Luart (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), their mutual interest is slightly different. They are world champions in triathlon and duathlon respectively.

Taylor won the under-20 World Triathlon Championships in London in August, while du Luart prevailed in the under-23 duathlon equivalent in Ottawa, Canada, in the same month.

And speaking to them both, it is clear that this is not just an activity on the side at university: it is what they want to do as a career.

Despite her obvious talent, du Luart admitted that she was amazed to win the duathlon event.

“You start to pick up names of fellow competitors, but as soon as you go to the Worlds there are people you’ve never heard of. I had no clue if I could win or not,” du Luart said.

“As the duathlon was in Canada I assumed they’d have a strong mountain team, so I wasn’t quite sure what they’d unleash on us.

“When I won I was amazed and got really emotional – I couldn’t believe it. You dream about it but you’re not sure if it’ll ever happen.”

Meanwhile, Taylor admitted that she was genuinely confused as to whether she had won her triathlon at first.

“The race itself went very smoothly for me, but I found it difficult to know which position I was in during the race because there was more than one age-group out on the course. I didn’t know where I’d come when I crossed the line!”  she laughed.

Du Luart finished seventh in the triathlon event.

The duo decided to share a two-person house in Kenilworth for convenience, but have also become close friends as their athletics careers develop rapidly.

They train separately for the swimming event and often without each other due to injury, but often cycle together.

They also share the stresses of competing at this level.

Because they are not classified as elite runners, they are required to contribute heavily towards travel costs, despite the fact that they are representing their country.

And Taylor admits that she appreciates living with somebody who shares her hectic way of life.

“It’s great to be able to live with someone who leads a similar lifestyle to you and who you can share training sessions with and go to races with,” Taylor said.

“I think we do spur each other on, although in a race I guess we try and beat the other one, jut like we do all our other competitors.”

Du Luart agrees: “We’re great, great friends, but if you’re both athletes there’s always going to be a cbit of competitiveness.

“There’s nothing horrid at all – we’re always so happy for each other when we do amazingly.

“When I came seventh in the triathlon I was still so happy for her as we had both given everything.”

It is intriguing to discover that neither athlete intended to go into triathlon.

Both originally defined themselves as runners – Du Luart was also a keen lacrosse player – before beginning to cycle and swim to alleviate injuries.

A year later, and they both want to pursue triathlon as a career: such is the addiction of the pain and the early mornings, such is the indefinable rush of glory.

Taylor’s triathlon consisted of an 1500m swim, 40km bike and a 10km run – most university students’ idea of hell.

Both train for between 15 and 20 hours a week across their three disciplines, as well as concentrating on strength and conditioning in weights-related sessions.

However, both are unequivocal when I ask them whether they want to pursue academic study or look to make their triathlon dream a reality.

“I definitely intend to race at as high a level as I can in the future – I don’t know where this will take me, but I intend to find out!” said Taylor.

Du Luart admits that it can be difficult to balance academic work and sport, but that “she always gets it done at the end of the day, even if the priorities might not be quite right!”

We’re great, great friends, but if you’re both athletes there’s always going to be a bit of competitiveness

She has identified one weakness which she needs to improve on if she is to make it in the long-term.

“I need to improve my swimming,” she said.

“Hopefully by the end of uni I’ll be at a point where I can take a year out and give it 100 per cent for a year.

“Then I’ll know what I need to do and whether I can commit to it full-time. I do love it.”

For now, Taylor and du Luart will continue to participate in BUCS competitions, which they are likely to win given they have already triumphed on the world stage.

The next world triathlon in August 2014 is again in Canada, while the duathlon is in Spain.

If you had told this duo a year ago that they would leave Warwick with every chance of becoming an elite triathlete, they would have scoffed at you.

But after a year of hard work, graft and the dizzying heights of world stardom, they genuinely have every chance of achieving their dream.


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