Winning Students


VIDEO: Triathlon brothers looking to make a splash as 2017 European circuit begins

22 March 2017

University of Stirling triathlon brothers, Douglas and Fergus Roberts, are fitter than ever on the eve of the 2017 European triathlon season which begins at the ETU European Cup in Gran Canaria this weekend.

The pair have had their best winter’s training yet.  Fergus (23) qualified for his first World Cup in Cape Town in February whilst Douglas (25), made significant inroads this winter, particularly in running, the discipline where a race is won or lost.

“I collected all the good things I did last season and I’ve had a better focus this winter,” said Douglas who achieved three top 10 finishes on the ETU circuit last season.

“After Christmas I did a 10k road race and ran a big PB (30:18 minutes) by over a minute in the same race last year.  I didn’t think I was in that kind of shape so it’s really good to have that kind of form early season.”

The brothers are evenly matched over the swim-bike-run disciplines, with Douglas having a slight edge in swimming.  They admit being highly competitive with one another although brotherly love plays a positive part in the ruthless world of elite racing.

“It’s good to have someone there to train with all the time, pushing you but also telling you to take it easy sometimes,” explained Fergus.

“We are competitive but we are always trying to push each other in training and in racing we’ll work together to bring the best out of us.” 

With the 2018 Gold Coast Games getting ever closer, this season is different in that it holds opportunities for athletes to qualify for Team Scotland. 

The brothers’ older sister, Jessica, competed for Scotland in the Glasgow 2014 Games in the mountain bike cross country event, adding an extra level of motivation for the brothers.  But neither believes the task of qualifying will be straightforward.

“Having Jessie competing at Glasgow 2014 inspired both of us to go out and train and get to the same level,” said Douglas.

“Essentially my big aim for the year is to qualify for the Gold Coast but I’m just trying to be the best athlete I can be, trying to improve myself individually each day to race more consistently at an international level. 

“It’s a really tough qualifying criteria so even though I believe I can do it and it’s my main aim I’m not getting too hung up on that.  And if I don’t qualify then I know I will have become a better athlete for it.”

MSc Environmental Management student, Doug, and Fergus, who is studying BSc Hons Environmental Geography, are amongst one of 150 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes.

Through the programme they receive funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.

Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.

“I came to Stirling for triathlon and to achieve the academic side at the same time,” said Fergus.

“The support network you get here is fantastic.  The University is so supportive of performance athletes and Winning Students is helping me get a really good degree whilst assisting me with travelling to races and training camps so I’ve still been able to compete at the top level.”

With the 2017 season officially starting this weekend in the Canary Islands the pair are looking forward to discovering just how good the long winter of preparation has been. 

“It’s been a long winter and we’ve been training over 30 hours every week, so it’s nice to feel like the race is just around the corner,” said Douglas.

“We train to compete on these big stages and perform on the biggest days, so if you can do that and you have the confidence in yourself then that’s the biggest thing - standing on the start line and knowing you can beat anyone.”