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Top triathlete Nikki Bartlett delighted to be CASS & Friends' first ambassador

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 25th November 2021, 09:00

Nikki Bartlett Nikki Bartlett

Top professional long distance triathlete Nikki Bartlett has teamed up with a leading sports charity in Gloucestershire.

The 34-year-old, originally from Cheltenham, has become the first ambassador for CASS & Friends, an organisation that does so much to help talented youngsters aged 12 to 18 in and around the county to realise their sporting dreams.

As regular readers of this website will know, CASS & Friends is the brainchild of Fiona Carter which, since being formed in 2015, has gone from strength to strength with former Olympic ski-jumper Eddie Edwards, the charity’s patron, just one of its many supporters.

Now Bartlett, a former Bournside School pupil who these days is based in Loughborough, has jumped at the chance to be involved and she couldn’t be more delighted.

“It’s absolutely great,” she told The Local Answer. “I grew up in Cheltenham and all my family live there, it’s fantastic to be able to help and give some support to rising sports stars in an area where I am from.”

Talk to Bartlett for just a few minutes and it’s easy to see why Fiona Carter is so pleased to have her on board. She’s easy to talk to with a ready laugh, is full of enthusiasm and, most importantly, is genuinely excited to be sharing her knowledge with the next generation of sports stars at CASS & Friends.

She’ll host webinars to advise athletes in such areas as how to use social media and how to market themselves, as well as working with them on the mental side of sport and conducting Q&A’s.

And as mentors go there surely can be few better than Nikki Bartlett, who has become one of the biggest names in triathlon since taking part in her first event in 2010 and claiming 22 podium finishes since going professional in 2015.

Not that she’s had it easy, far from it. She was originally a rower – she was on the Great Britain Rowing World Class Start Programme – but injuries intervened and she was unable to compete as often she would have liked.

Fortunately, there was a way out for her because she discovered triathlon and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I’ve grown up in sport and I’ve worked my way up through sport,” said Bartlett, who gained a 1st in sport and physical education at Birmingham University.

“I’ve learned the business side of it, I know how to market myself, how to use social media to promote myself. I’ve had my fair share of learning life skills.”

And it’s those life experiences that Bartlett, who relies on sponsorship and prize money to make a living as professional long distance athletes are not UK Sport funded, is happy to pass on to anyone and everyone at CASS & Friends.

“Things aren’t just given to you on a plate,” she said. “You have to go out and find companies to sponsor you, they don’t come to you. You have to market yourself and build relationships with your sponsors, learn to value the partnership.”

And as if to emphasise the point, Bartlett said she was currently running a competition with one of the companies that sponsor her for one of their employees to win a training day with her.

That’s a great prize for someone, of course, although anyone who has seen Bartlett perform will know that whoever wins will have to bring their A-game on the big day.

And while the physical requirements are pretty obvious, the mental side can be just as demanding, too, and the importance of the mental side in sport is something that  Bartlett wants to impress on those at CASS & Friends.

“It’s very important that sport doesn’t become all-consuming,” she said. “You need to be strong mentally and learn to deal with any setbacks. If you’re not strong mentally it can be a problem, you’ve got to enjoy it, you’ve got to remember why you got into sport in the first place.”

And no-one can accuse Bartlett, who competes all over the globe, of not practising what she preaches.

“I absolutely love triathlon, I love the competition,” she said.

And what’s more, she’s got no intention of giving it up any time soon.

“I feel as though I’m at the beginning of my career,” she said. “I feel as though I can go on for another 10 years. Obviously it’s an endurance sport but I feel as though I’m moving into my prime.

“Some people may feel they’re ready to retire at my age but I feel like I’m 15!”

Her next big challenge is the Ironman World Championship in St George, Utah, in May – she’ll use the Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote in March as a prep race – so she’s facing plenty of hard graft over the coming weeks and months.

So which of the three disciplines – running, swimming and cycling – does she like most and least.

“I think I enjoy the running the most,” she said. “You don’t need much equipment and it’s a lot easier to go running with other people.

“The swimming is my least favourite. You can’t be sociable, I like to talk!”

And that ability and willingness to talk is great news for everyone associated with CASS & Friends.

“We are absolutely delighted that Nikki has come on board,” said Fiona Carter. 

“Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious and she has so much knowledge and insight to share with our athletes. 

“She’s an inspiring person not just because of her sport but also the way she lives her life, making the most of every opportunity and simply having fun.

“I honestly believe that if our athletes can keep having fun with their sport – enjoying their sport – their performances will continue to soar.”

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Nikki Bartlett

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