Vicky Holland and Non Stanford live together, train together, and are the very best of friends – but when it comes to competition, that friendship is put on the backburners from the start line to the finish.
And never was that more apparent than in the women’s triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where Holland outsprinted her roommate to clinch the bronze medal by just 0.03 seconds.
While most athletes shout with joy upon winning an Olympic medal, for Holland, her first words after crossing the line told a very different story.
Turning to face Stanford, she whispered an apology – only for the 27-year-old to tell her to stop being silly and think about the gin and tonics they would be enjoying later that night.
And while only one of the pair returned to British shores with a medal, their friendship remains stronger than ever.
“Non and I now are exactly like we were before the Olympics,” said two-time World champion Holland.
“It’s something I was hugely proud of and it has shown our relationship is friend first, athlete second.
“That’s the attitude we went to the Games with, but you put that under the biggest stress you probably can, but we came out of it exactly as we’ve always been. To me, that’s great - we’re friends for life.”
For Holland, training day in, day out with her best friend is the ideal situation, allowing them to support one another through triathlon’s many challenges.
But she is quick to point out that their life together doesn’t just revolve around the sport.
“First thing is that we get it. We understand what each other is going through, and that is huge,” she said.
“We will be grouchy and tired at times, and it won’t always be on the same day. One of us will be feeling it one day, and then two days later it will hit the next person, but we understand that and we are very good at giving each other space.
“But we’re also very good at just not always being switched on about triathlon all the time.
“We have a bit more of a normal life than that. We do what many other 20-something, 30-something people do, like sitting, chatting, watching TV and cooking together.
“We do all that and keep it normal, and we find that it really helps.”