Joshua Lewis 5th Place Triumph at Ironman 70.3 World Championships


Joshua Lewis is a professional long-distance triathlete, and a member of the National Triathlon Performance Centre Wales (NTPCW) squad based in Cardiff since his entry into triathlon. He recently finished an incredible 5th place at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Lahti, Finland – the highest finish by a British male since Alistair Brownlee’s podiums in 2018 & 2019. Here we chart Josh’s journey through the sport and his next goals.

Josh Lewis, a competitive swimmer by heart, found himself treading uncharted waters during his placement in London while pursuing a Masters in Architecture at Cardiff University. The struggle to swim properly due to lack of club and facilities led Josh to lace up his running shoes, and before he knew it, he was two-thirds of the way to a triathlon. Intrigued by his father's belief in his triathlon potential, Josh decided to take the plunge and give it a go.

Hailing from Guernsey, the Island Games held a special place in his heart. So, Josh reached out to the local triathlon club to enquire about the qualification for the Games. Josh says “long story short, I ended up managing to qualify for the Island Games the following year”.

Showing rapid progress and great promise, Josh found his stride in triathlon. He quickly realised that the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast was just around the corner, and he had the potential to qualify. As he embarked on his fifth year at Cardiff University, he joined forces with coach Andy Lane as the NTPCW was being developed, and secured qualification for the Games. Upon finishing his Master's degree in Architecture, Josh took a year off to focus solely on his triathlon career, before pursuing a diploma in Architecture while balancing the demands of a full-time triathlon programme and part-time work.

He continued his journey with the squad in Cardiff, growing ever more passionate about triathlon, and becoming Island Games champion in 2019. Josh earned a spot at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, and set his sights on a new challenge in 2023 in the professional long-course arena. He earned qualification for the World Championships by finishing 2nd in Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire in June, before defending his Island Games title at home in Guernsey in July, and tuning up with another podium at Challenge London in early-August.

On August 27th at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Lahti, Finland, though, he reached a new level, with a brilliant 5th place finish. Only four British men (all Olympians) have ever achieved a higher finish at this championships. Despite the extent of the occasion, Josh remained composed.

He said, “I’ve had a few races in the last few months that have been quite high-pressure. I did the Island Games in Guernsey. It was a home race for me and there was a lot of internal and external pressure, just because I was the reigning champion so I wanted to perform well in front of a home crowd. People were also expecting me to do well because of the previous games.”

And then in Staffordshire, it was a high-pressure race internally because I wanted to qualify for the World Championships and that was my last opportunity, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.”

However, entering the World Championships, Josh felt a lower weight of expectation on his shoulders. Preparation for the event had gone extremely well, however as it was his first time at the event, both Josh and his coach Luke, were viewing the event more as a data-gathering mission for future races.

As the race began, Josh had to demonstrate patience as he navigated through the highly-competitive swimming field, which is relatively unusual in long-course triathlon, and something he hadn’t experienced since competing in short-course racing. He emerged from the water in 12th place and in touch with the leaders.

Onto the bike, the pace was extremely high, and Josh dug deeper than he has ever done in a 70.3 race during the first 30km to stay with the front group that eventually formed containing just seven athletes. He entered the transition zone (T2) with the lead pack, having established a significant gap over the chasing group, although he was aware of his comparative weakness in running, expecting to trail some of the fastest runners by 2-3 minutes or more.

However, as the kilometres ticked by, and with the pursuing pack still over a minute behind at the 14-kilometre mark, Josh realised that a top-5 finish was within reach. He pushed himself to the limit over those final kilometres, ultimately crossing the finish line in an amazing 5th place.

Josh's achievement was a huge breakthrough performance, and he took a well-deserved week to reflect and savour the moment. He emphasised the importance of stepping back and appreciating his accomplishments amidst the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

Josh explained, “it can be really hard to take a step back from a performance like that and really give it the time that it deserves. I think we are so process-orientated and just tick things off. I could’ve quite easily just got stuck into a training block and not appreciated it for what it was.”

Currently, Josh is embarking on his final training block of the season, spanning the next six weeks, as he prepares for his first full Ironman distance event in Cascais, Portugal, scheduled for October 21st. He intends to target full-distance races in the upcoming season and recognises the importance of gaining experience in this challenging discipline.

Josh said, “I think it will be important to try and do it at the back end of this season and learn what goes well, what doesn’t. So that I can execute it well for next season.”

I’m really looking forward to it because it’s something new and a little bit scary, which I think will keep me on my toes.”

With anticipation and a touch of trepidation, Josh eagerly anticipates this new chapter in his triathlon journey, and we hope that his progression and achievements can continue to inspire others in the sport.

Our Performance Head Coach, Luke Watson, had this to say on Josh’s achievement, “That was a fantastic performance from Josh, we knew he was in good shape, but he put together near-perfect execution when it counted. It is a rich reward for the hard work he has put in over the years, and when I reflect on the journey he has been on, from when I first met him as the NTPCW squad was starting up, to where he is today, I am hugely proud of that development. It is a great credit to him, but also to the whole team of athletes and staff (both current and previous), and a testament to the dedication and environment we have here.”

Massive congratulations to Josh on his most recent achievement. We are looking forward to continuing to celebrate his success, and wish him the best of luck for Cascais!

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