Gemmell in new challenge

TALKING BUSINESS: Retired Manawatu triathlete Kris Gemmell now has a job travelling the world working for the world triathlon series.
TALKING BUSINESS: Retired Manawatu triathlete Kris Gemmell now has a job travelling the world working for the world triathlon series.

Olympian Kris Gemmell has traded in the daily triathlon grind for the boardroom.

The Palmerston North triathlete, who retired after the 2012 ITU series World Cup final in Auckland, is now working for the World Triathlon Series as global head of partnerships.

Gemmell, 36, is based in London working for Upsolut Sports UK, which is part of Lagardere Sports, the second biggest sports marketing agencies behind IMG, he said, and holds the sponsorship rights for the world series.

His job is to look for ways to improve the series and he travels with the world series to look after the people from companies involved on behalf of Lagardere.

"In all honesty it's one of those positions where you needed 10 or so years of commercial experience to get into," Gemmell said. "[But] Having an innate knowledge of the sport and everyone around already in the sport made it a lot easier."

He said his own commercial experience having been self-employed for so long helped.

Because he had been involved with the series as a competitor so much, it also made it easier and he already knew a lot of the staff in London.

"The best part of the job is being in charge of a team."

He went to all of the eight legs of the world triathlon series last year which stopped in Auckland, San Diego, Germany, Japan, London, Spain, Sweden and Austria.

He is one of the few former athletes involved in the business side.

"They haven't really had someone in [my] role before. I make sure partnerships are enhanced and enhance perspectives. For me it's being able to explain what the sport's all about."

Part of his job is to liaise with sponsors and make sure the companies "putting massive amounts of money into the series can be more involved".

Since he gave it away, Gemmell hasn't had a hankering to get back into racing now that he has cracked the executive world.

"I didn't really miss the racing so to speak, I missed the training. That might sound strange but it's the camaraderie of the training."

He's still involved in the high-performance side of things - last year he coached New Zealand's top triathlete Ryan Sissons to his best year in the world triathlon series, where he was 11th overall.

It helps that Gemmell travels to all of the events, which a lot of coaches can't do.

Competitors still ask for help, but Gemmell said he didn't want to bite off any more than he can chew coaching wise, as his job has a lot of accountability and he wants to give it his all.

He still keeps fit running every couple of days and rides to work in the English summer but otherwise it's on the tube.

"The closest thing I get now is the peloton on the way to work. It's flat-stack racing."

He is on holiday in New Zealand and may be able to stay until the Auckland round of the world triathlon series in April, but will otherwise be heading back at the end of the month.

Manawatu Standard