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Emma Pallant, awaiting the return of the prodigal daughter

Emma Pallant, awaiting the return of the prodigal daughter
Emma with her coach and mentor Michelle Dillon
04 Ene 2015 09:01
*Translated by Anna Bailie

Emma Pallant entered the world of athletics with great strength and success. From a young age she represented her country, the United Kingdom, in numerous international championships. Soon after medals started to arrive; bronze in 1,500m in the Junior World championship in Bydgoszcz 2008; bronze in the European under 23’s cross country championship in Albufeira 2010; gold in the European under 23’s cross country championship in Velenje 2011. She prepared with every ounce of anticipation and excitement she had for the London Olympics, held at her home in 2012; however, injury prevented her from living her dream and every athlete’s dream: to be an Olympian. In order stay active she turned to other activities such as cycling and swimming until she decided to have a go with triathlon. It hasn’t been two years since she started and she has already become one of the best British triathletes. As part of Team Dillon she is now in Australia preparing for the 2015 season; and she has been telling us she is eager to start with cross country season again. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later, and without further ado here we present Emma Pallant: a name we shouldn’t be forgetting.

  • Emma Pallant
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • DOB 4TH June 1989
  • Club: Team Dillon
  • Coach: Michelle Dillon

Personal Best:

  • 1500 m.: 4.09.96 (Rabat 2009)
  • 3000 m.: 9.07.28 (Twickenham 2008)
  • 5000 m.: (Watford 2012)
  • 10000 m.: 33.33 (Arley Hall 2013)
  • Half Marathon: 1h15.42 (Peterborough 2011)
The cross country season will start shortly, and that is a discipline in which you have accomplished unbelievable successes. What memories do you still have from competitions such as Albufeira 2010 and Velenje 2011?

I have great memories from those races, I always enjoyed the team side of the cross country fixtures. A lot of my training group qualified for the European Champs and there was always a good vibe, everyone peaking for one big race and of course the great partys afterwards!! Standing on the podium individual and team for both races was special for me and a real highlight to my running career.

Medalla de oro en el Europeo de Velenje (Eslovenia) 2011 | Gold medal at the European Velenje (Slovenia) 2011

Gold medal at the European Velenje (Slovenia) 2011

Your medal from the European tournament in 2010 took a long time to come through after the Turkish athlete Erdongan’s disqualification. What comes to your mind when you realise that you competed with a person who took performance-enhancing drugs?

Yes I think it is frustrating because we all know there are people out there trying to cheat and take the short cut so it is a mixture of good and bad to hear about Erdongans disqualification. I felt happy that the system is catching people out but frustrated that the moment gets taken away from athletes because you work so hard to be the best you can be and cheats take the podium moments away from you.

Do you believe those athletes deserve a second chance?

Absolutely not, I believe in zero tolerance. People depend on making a living often from racing and put their all in to competing clean so I believe all athletes should sign a legal document to say you are not taking performance enhancing drugs and then if you get caught you should go to jail, we need bigger punishments to clean up sport because taking drugs is dangerous.

«All athletes should sign a legal document to say you are not taking performance enhancing drugs and then if you get caught you should go to jail»
Emma Pallant con su entrenadora Michelle Dillon | Emma Pallant with her coach Michelle Dillon

Emma Pallant with her coach Michelle Dillon

Are you planning to participate in any cross country competitions as part of your training for triathlon?

Yes I am, not this season as I am away in Australia to focus on my swimming but long term when I am happy with my swim standard then I will do cross country seasons again.

It has only been two years since you lay aside your dream of becoming an Olympian in order to pursue triathlon. How would you assess or summarise the last two seasons as a triathlete?

HARD but have loved every second. I am able to do more training, push my body harder and the swim is frustrating but it is good to have a challenge and I am seeing progression all the time which is encouraging.

Recently you have become one of the best triathletes in the United Kingdom, how have you adapted so quickly?

Thanks to my coach Michelle Dillon and training partner Stu Hayes, both Olympic triathletes they have worked hours with me every day to teach me all the know and it is them and being part of Team Dillon that has allowed me to make the transition successfully.

Sector de bicicleta en la Casa de Campo madrileña con la pacense Miriam Casillas a rueda | Sector bicycle in Madrid Country House Miriam Casillas wheel

Sector bicycle in Madrid Country House Miriam Casillas wheel

What was more difficult for you, swimming or cycling?

Defiantly swimming, this is still my weakest by far and I know that to compete successfully and consistently internationally then I still need to improve!

Could you please tell us the reason why in 2012, after almost becoming an Olympian in London, you switched to triathlon?

I had knee surgery and I couldn’t do as much mileage as I wanted, I was supplementing a lot of my training with swimming and riding and rowing but I wanted to have a focus and a goal to my cross training. Ironically I am now doing more mileage than ever on the run though and my knee is now pain free as Michelle changed my running style and includes a lot of very specific gym work to keep me conditioned so I can cope with the physical demands of all the run training.

While preparing for triathlon, have you had any pains, any aches? Can you train normally?

I am now injury free and train normally, I do a lot of gym work to keep it this way and touch wood have not been injured since

Who was there to help you and support you through the difficult times?

I have had loads of amazing people who have got me through, too many to mention!! But the ones who have been especially supportive are my coach Michelle and Stu, my mum, my brother, my best friends Steph Twell and Steve Connor and Kelly Holmes was also a great mentor.

What attracted you toward athletics? Why did you choose it?

When I was a kid I did all sports, then my former coach Mick Woods saw me at a local cross country race and he encouraged me to join our running club and told me that if I wanted to be the best then I had to commit to athletics and it was the sport I loved the most and where all my friends were so I did.

Was it very difficult to become the best European sub-23 to compete in cross country, as you did in Velenje in 2011?

I did have a lot of up and down moments to get there, a lot of tears at training when I kept suffering with knee pain and stomach issues but my friends got me through and even the trials to get to Velenje didn’t go the best so it was all the more rewarding then to stand at the top of the podium to thank all those who believed in me and stuck by me

Currently, two years after joining Team Dillon, you are still part of it; how does belonging to this group improve you as an athlete?

Massively, Team Dillon makes me enjoy training, there are so many fab people, Michelles passion is infectious and pours into every one of her athletes. Stu shares all his knowledge and experience too and its just such a hard working but fun and supportive environment which breeds success and satisfaction. Michelle just has a way of getting the best out of people and she has formed her amazing Team which reflects this.

How do you organise your training sessions in order to prepare for all three triathlon disciplines?

Most days I do all three disciplines and on some days will swim twice but it is all carefully thought out and Michelle trains us smart so we can train to max volume and intensity without breaking down.

Do you combine training with studies or a job?

I did when I was a runner, I was a physiotherapist but for triathlon I had to go full time due to all the training and time commitment.

Is it possible to live off of triathlon full time in your country?

Thanks to Team Dillon, whom I coach athletes for, and my amazing sponsors New Balance, Canyon, Maxinutrition, Speedo and Currexsoles combined with prize money I am able to do it full time.

«Thanks to Team Dillon and my amazing sponsors, I am able to do it full time
Triunfal en meta de un triatlón | Triumphant in a triathlon goal

Triunfal en meta de un triatlón | Triumphant in a triathlon goal

Is it easy to find sponsors in the UK to take your career forward?

It isn’t easy but I think the more results you get the easier it becomes so hopefully over the next few years it will become easier.

How is your country living triathlon’s increase in popularity?

I think it is increasing all the time, more and more people are attracted to it due to the variation in training and the more forgiving nature of the sport on your body.


Are the Brownlee brothers widely supported? Can you see yourself reaching the same level they have?

Definitely, they are great guys, who got to the top by doing it their way and they inspire me to do the same in the Team Dillon set up

A few weeks ago the Ironman race was held in Kona, Hawaii. Even though you are still very young; would you ever be tempted to face the Ironman race?

For sure, as soon as my ITU and non drafting goals have been achieved I would love to go long!

What differences have you observed between the worlds of athletics and triathlon?

There are quite a few in terms of governing bodies, funding, support and expenses of races, agent set ups etc but also on a more practical note travelling with a bike is a bit more tricky, and there is ten times more to think about in set up, equipment etc


  • 31ª en Copa del Mundo Triathlon.- Cartagena de Indias 2014
  • 7ª en Copa del Mundo Triathlon.- Cozumel 2014
  • 6ª en final Copa de Europa Triathlon.- Madrid 2014
  • 27ª en el Triathlon Mundial.- Estocolmo 2014
  • 29ª en Copa del Mundo Triathlon.- Tiszaujvaros 2014
  • 3ª en Copa de Europa Triathlon.- Ginebra 2014
  • Campeona de Gran Bretaña de Triathlon 2014
  • 50ª en el Triathlon Mundial.- Londres 2014
  • 21ª Copa de Europa Triathlon.- Antalya 2017
  • Campeona de Gran Bretaña de Duathlon.- 2014
  • 30ª en Triathlon Mundial.- Estocolmo 2013
  • Campeona de Gran Bretaña de Triathlon 2013
  • Campeona de Europa sub 23 de campo a través.- Velenje 2011
  • 7ª en 5.000m. en el Campeonato de Europa sub 23.- Ostrava 2011
  • 3ª Campeonato de Europa sub 23 de campo a través.- Albufeira 2010
  • 7ª en 3.000m. en el Campeonato de Europa de selecciones.- Oslo 2011
  • Campeona de Gran Bretaña sub 23 de 1.500m. 2009
  • 7ª en 1.500m. Campeonato de Europa sub-23.- Kaunas 2009
  • 5ª Campeonato de Europa júnior de campo a través.- Brusellas 2008
  • 3ª en 1.500m.- Campeonato del Mundo júnior.- Bydgoszcz 2008
  • 3ª en el Cross de Elgoibar júnior.- 2008
  • 4ª en 1.500m. Campeonato de Europa júnior.- Hengelo 2007
  • 2ª en los Juegos Escolares Mundiales.- Tesalónica 2006




Fran Aguilera

Corredor, Diplomado en Educación Física, Monitor de Atletismo, Entrenador Nacional de Ciclismo. Mijas (Málaga)

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