ABOUT JESS LEARMONTH
Jess is a two-time Commonwealth silver medallist, a European champion and has achieved nine World Series podiums – the highest level in the sport – including finishing the 2019 season ranked world No 2.
Jess’s extraordinary rise to the highest level didn’t follow the usual pathway. Unlike most of her rivals that have been competing in swim, bike and run from a young age, Jess only started her first triathlon at the relatively late age of 23, when she was working in a supermarket at the time.
During her youth, Jess had a varied sporting background that included both playing football for the Leeds United Academy and golf at the Wetherby Golf Club. But it was her experience of swimming for the City of Leeds Swim Club to National Championship level which would set her up for a later career in triathlon.
She burst onto the scene at a world level in 2016, was crowned European champion the following season as well as finishing on the podium at the World Series Grand Final in Rotterdam.
In 2018, Jess secured double silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the individual and mixed team relay. Her resume also includes nine World Triathlon Series podium finishes.
Arguably the strongest swimmer in the sport, Jess emerges first from the water on a regular basis. As one of the best cyclists, she then sets the tone on the bike, hammering away at the front. Jess has used this strength to stamp her authority whether racing in the World Series or fast and furious Super League Triathlon, which she dominated during the 2021 season, winning three from four events in the series. Jess still has her sights firmly fixed on the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, but also wants to expand her racing and has already made an impressive debut on the Ironman 70.3 circuit with a third-place finish in Lanzarote earlier this year.
The fastest female swimmer in short course triathlon
2x Commonwealth silver medallist
World Championship runner-up
Olympic gold medal winner, Tokyo mixed team relay
A role model for youth with dyslexia and the transformational power of sport
JESS THE CHARACTER
“I was working at Sainsbury’s on minimum wage, roaming through life, then I get this amazing opportunity to travel the world and do sport.”
If triathlon fans have become accustomed to the success of Jess Learmonth, she remains as surprised, unassuming, and thankful for her talents as the day she first took up the sport – and found out she wasn’t too bad at it.
“In the individual race at the Olympics, I probably had my worst result in a few years and afterwards everyone other than the medal winners was just miserable.
“But I found it so bizarre because I was loving this life and just trying to take it all in and enjoy it. As long as you try your hardest, what more can you do?
“If it comes across as if I don’t care or unprofessional, that’s not the case. Triathlon is not the whole world, and there’s so much more going on out there.”
Despite the self-deprecating style, Jess has become a fan favourite for post-race comments, raising plenty of laughs with her off-the-cuff takes of how the day played out (usually a lot better than she thought it would!). A swimmer until the age of 15, Jess then took a complete break from sport for six years, but thankful for living in Leeds, when she did return the swimming and cycling talent was evident and she was headhunted by British Triathlon and earmarked for a support athlete role initially before becoming a medal contender in her own right.
Being dyslexic, sport was Jess’s outlet through school, a way of gaining confidence and a means to develop the skills she’ll need for when she stops competing in elite triathlon. Seeing many other girls in a similar position, Jess is passionate about helping them recognise their full potential too – whether they become Olympians, or more importantly, just healthy, happy humans.
Rather than being in an elite set-up from an early age, Jess’s story is relatable for the thousands of youngsters who might be questioning the worth of continuing with sport and exercise in their early teenage years. Already qualified as a triathlon coach, moving forward, she’d like to invest more of her time in helping them – those 14-year-old Jess Learmonths, who have all the spirit in the world, but not yet found their direction.