World Triathlon Paths to Paris: Csongor Lehmann

by Ben Eastman on 09 May, 2024 12:24 • Español
World Triathlon Paths to Paris: Csongor Lehmann

On small details can grand moments turn. The individual triathlon events at the Olympic Games may last for a tad under two hours, but the races can be won in the briefest of windows. The problem is, no one knows exactly when and where the fleeting opportunities will present themselves.

As part of World Triathlon’s Paths to Paris series, Csongor Lehmann (HUN) shared some of the aspects of his skillset he has bolstered in his hunt for what could be the biggest moment of his career so far.

He has already qualified for the Hungarian Olympic team, making him the first male triathlete from his country to be selected.

“I have my spot so I can be quite calm,” he said. “I don’t have to focus on the last races of the qualifying period. Instead, I can really focus on the races that will help me get better on the road to the Olympics, and on the WTCS.”

In addition to the WTCS, Lehmann will use the French Grand Prix as some of his preparatory races. There, he will be able to race against some of the best in the business and to sharpen his race craft before the peak of the season.

Right now, though, he is entrenched in a brutal period of physical preparation as he and his team try to piece together the puzzle that will see him succeed in Paris. Fresh off his latest swimming session, Lehmann did not sugar-coat his efforts.

“The intensity is going up at the moment,” he explained. “We had a lot of volume recently as is normal in this part of the preparation period and now we are doing more intensity. The ‘brick’ sessions have come back too with a lot of stressful sessions.”

Earlier in the year Lehmann was on a training camp in Spain with his home club. Among his training partners he can count Gergely Kiss, silver medallist at the 2022 World U23 Championships, as well as several others that push him.

Moreover, inspiration has come from beyond his teammates as several famous faces have been in the same part of the world.

“Like this morning, you can see Alistair Brownlee (the former Olympic champion) and Beth Potter (the women’s world champion) training. In this environment, it’s much easier to do the sessions. They’re putting in the work and it is very motivating to see them.”

After the season he had in 2023, Lehmann also has plenty of intrinsic drive to carry him through this tough block.

“Last year I finished in the top-10 overall in the Series,” he noted. “I was 10th. Now I would like to do better and make it into the top-5.”

As a result of his stellar form, he has earned his slot at a first Olympic Games and his excitement is palpable.

“I talked with a lot of people about the Olympics. It’s a very unique event, it’s special and there’s nothing similar to it. On the other hand we are racing with the same guys as always. I think the atmosphere will be what I have to get used to.”

To that end, Lehmann is working on the mental aspect of his preparation. “I am working on that to learn how to handle that kind of pressure.”

Csongor Lehmann

“I started to work with a psychologist. I did not have problems with it before and I could always do my best on the WTCS level but I think Paris will be on a whole new level.”
Although he feels has already improved, “there are many more things I can do to get better.”

In many ways, Lehmann offers an insight into the paradox of the Olympic Games. While he pointed out that he will be against the same athletes as the rest of the year and noted that the underlying physical challenge is no different to any other WTCS race, the size of the moment sets it apart.

The challenge is thus not to be overwhelmed by the scale of the event. When every reminder serves only to reinforce just how big the Games are, though, it is hard to come to terms with it.

“The thing is, I have to be on the start line just like every other race and not to feel that pressure. I need to have the same emotions as before a WTCS race. That’s the plan.”

Over the course of the current Olympic cycle, Lehmann has made great strides in the sport. In 2021, he missed out on Tokyo after having a brief chance to qualify through the relay. Nevertheless, he ended the year as a rising star after winning the World U23 title. With a new Olympics on the horizon, Lehmann has since grown into the leading Hungarian triathlete.

“Being in the best position of the Hungarian team now gives me a lot of confidence,” he said. “Hungarian triathlon is very strong at the moment, especially on the guys’ side. I think we have four guys in the top-30 (of the Olympic Qualification rankings) or thereabouts. We can really pull each other and motivate each other.”

When asked about his growth over the Olympic cycle, Lehmann could not help but laugh a little.

“It was quite an interesting journey. In the first year after winning the World U23 Champs, I felt like a rookie and my racing was not yet at the level it is now. Back then, I could have one or two top-10s but I really had to do my best to reach the top guys. And now my last year was a lot more consistent and I’m on the way to getting into the top group. I’m in the mix.”

Csongor Lehmann

Wins at the World Cup level, such as in Karlovy Vary in 2022 and at home in Tiszaujvaros last year, showcased his abilities. Likewise, recording his best ever WTCS season in 2023 boosted him and winning a first WTCS medal is now firmly in his sights this season.

“I think we are on a good path and I’ve improved a lot so I think we have to focus on the small things, like what decides a race at the end.”

While he works on what might appear to be the minor details, then, Csongor Lehmann has a grand image in mind when it comes to his path to Paris and the WTCS beyond.

“I’m close to the first guys and with these small parts of the big picture I think we can put it together and win that medal.”

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