The name of Javier Gómez Noya will go down in triathlon history. He has written history and he will continue to do so. The first man to win five world titles. At the age of 32 he already has a silver Olympic medal, but his determination to do better and his tenacity are propelling him towards a new challenge: gold in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Effort, professionalism, hard work and perseverance are some of the qualities that led Pamesa Cerámica to select this international sportsman as an ambassador for the company.
Question: You’re the best triathlete the sport has ever seen; how do you feel about that?
Response: I am extremely happy; I would never have imagined winning five ITU (International Triathlon Union) titles. It’s much more than I could ever have dreamed of. But I don’t altogether like this label of the best triathlete ever, because you can’t compare the different triathletes over the years; each generation is different.
Q: What is it that makes your generation different from the previous one?
R: At the moment I’m competing against a different generation of athletes. If you look at the ages of my rivals in the world races, they’re usually at least five years younger than me. There used to be more competition in the cycling, but today’s generation are faster in the running.
Q: What was the first thing that went through your head when you crossed the finishing line?
R: The first thing was extreme happiness; it meant I knew that I’d met the main target for this season. After that I was a bit mad because Mario had beaten me. He was the best in that event and I’m happy for him because he put up a great race; he deserved to win, but I never like being beaten.
Q: What does it mean to you to have won more titles than the British athlete Lessing?
R: I think I’ll need some time to take in everything that I have achieved, but there is no doubt that being the triathlete with the most world titles is extremely satisfying. One never tires of winning, it’s a very pleasant feeling, but that’s not going to give me any advantages next year, so I’ll still have to keep on struggling and working hard to try and win more titles.
Q: You are very competitive. Does the best man always win?
R: The way the competition system works at present, consistency is highly valued and the way the title is decided tends to be fair because some results can be disregarded. However, the grand final still counts for a lot, so if there are no technical hitches or falls you could say the best man usually wins.
Q: “2014 has been the best season of my life”, you said a year ago. I imagine 2015 has meant much more…
R: It’s true that the 2014 season was much better in terms of results: I won four World Series and the World Ironman 70.3. This year I was frustrated by the race at Zell am See; I had been training really well, but I got a fever the previous week that weakened me a bit and I was left with the feeling that I hadn’t been able to give 100%.
Q: Have you trained more than ever before?
R: Yes, I can say that this has been the case, this year I’ve trained an awful lot. It’s been a much more difficult year than people might think. I’ve been down with fevers a few times and that’s stopped me from being 100%. Normally when things don’t go as well as you’ve hoped you tend to train a bit more than normal or than what you had planned, and I don’t know if that’s all together good but is what you feel at that moment.
Q: Where do you get your strength?
R: Well, well, I don’t know (smiles). It comes naturally, but I think loving what I do is crucial, because that’s what helps motivation to come spontaneously.
Q: Since your first world series in 2008, how have you changed?
R: In various aspects. If I had to highlight one above all the others it would obviously be maturity, because that enables you to face every situation in a calmer and more rational way, both in sport and my personal life.
Q: Your next challenge is the Olympic Games in Rio; do you feel you are ready to win the gold?
R: Yes, I’m well aware that I am in with a chance. However, in the end it is a one-day race and anything can happen, but needless to say there’s going to be no shortage of enthusiasm, effort and hard work on the way.
“While it isn’t a priority target for 2016, he by no means rules out a sixth world title”
Q: At the same time as that goal, are you going to try for a sixth world title?
R: 2016 is going to be totally devoted to the Olympic Games, but to get up to the pace of the competition and train well for the Olympics you have to run some World Series events. So without it being a priority target I’m by no means ruling out a sixth world title.
Q: Throughout your career you’ve shown that for you, nothing’s impossible…
R: Ha ha, oh yes there is… For the moment we have to make sure that the Olympic gold remains a feasible possibility, along with the five world titles that I already have.
Q: Are you planning to compete over long distances?
R: It’s one of the options open to me; it’s a decision I’ll have to take after the 2016 season and once the Olympic Games are over, but for the moment I prefer not to think about it.
Q: Have you ever wondered what your limit is?
R: It isn’t a question you ask yourself directly, but in professional sport, and in a sport as hard as triathlon, we’re unconsciously searching for our limit on a daily basis. Lots of days you end up really tired, then you think you’ve reached your limit, but the next day you wake up, your whole body aches, you look at your training programme for that day and it’s harder than the day before, but there is no alternative than to go all out regardless.
Q: What’s the secret of your professional success?
R: It’s an accumulation of factors. It’s undeniable that you need natural talent to be an elite athlete, but the factor that determines success or failure above all else is dedication and hard work.
“My sporting career is better appreciated in Spain than it used to be. Take the case in point: my first Spanish sponsor was Pamesa two years ago”
Q: Do you feel more appreciated in Spain or abroad?
R: It’s difficult to say, but in countries with a longer tradition of triathlon I’m rated very highly, perhaps even more than those countries’ own triathletes. Having said that, in the last few years I’ve noticed that my work and my sporting career are being appreciated more in Spain. To take the case in point, my first Spanish sponsor appeared just two years ago, Pamesa Cerámica.
Q: As a triathlete you embody values that you share with Pamesa. Has the drive for constant improvement been your best travelling companion?
R: It’s crucial for me to identify with the sponsors I have and the values they transmit. In my career external circumstances have forced me to get over adverse situations that don’t depend directly on me. So yes, continuous improvement has always been key to my sporting career.
Q: You mention the way the impact of triathlon is evolving in Spain. Do you think Spain’s predominance in the sport will generate greater enthusiasm in our country?
R: Undoubtedly it’s going to help, I don’t know to what degree but what we are witnessing is a historical moment. And to some extent, I don’t think the media are paying as much attention to the sport as it deserves, although that’s issue is out of our hands.
Q: What lies behind a great triathlon legend?
R: In the first place, my family and the members of my team who help me and support me to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. I hugely appreciate the work they do, they experience it with the same passion as I do. And second, on a personal level, I see myself as a normal guy, a family person, quite quiet, and with other hobbies that I don’t have enough time for as I would like, playing the guitar for example.
Q: Do you imagine you’ll remain connected with triathlon in the future?
R: I’d like to and I’d like to think I will. Even if I wasn’t doing something directly associated with triathlon I’d like to stay connected to sport.