MARC AUSTIN knows what it feels like going wheel to wheel with the very best at triathlon, but also the acute sense of loss when such adrenaline is cruelly whisked away. A world medallist at both under-20 and under-23 level, and winner of bronze from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he was compelled to retire in his prime when a heart condition was discovered three years ago.

There are still occasional check-ups, but mercifully Austin lives a normal existence otherwise.

“So far, it’s OK,” the 29-year-old Glaswegian says.

The mental reset required more extended care. Yet he is finally ready to throw himself back into the fray – albeit as a coach, rather than as a competitor. A new National Triathlon Centre will officially be launched today from a base at Stirling University. As a key recruit, he has wisdom from varied experiences to pass on. “Working with up-and-coming athletes seemed a good way to enter this,” he underlines. “I’m inexperienced as a coach. But the idea of having a system where we can aspire to be world-class seemed to be a good fit.”

Scotland has punched at a good weight in his sport. This month, Beth Potter won her first race on the main World Series to add to her campaign for an Olympic medal in Paris next year. Austin’s contemporary Grant Sheldon remains on the circuit while David McNamee has sampled regular Ironman success.

The UK is a super-power in the art of swim-bike-run. But it is greedy for more, which is why Stirling is to officially join a five-strong network of British Triathlon hubs alongside Leeds, Loughborough, Bath and Cardiff – with resources to enable the search for the next Brownlee brothers.

Austin arrives recharged. His batteries had run dry when he previously exited this scene.

“I had to take time away from the sport completely to realign or reconfigure my identity with the sport,” he reflects. “I had to give myself two-and-a-half years to no longer see myself as an athlete. It probably took quite some time to get over having to stop. But in terms of coaching, anytime I helped out at a club session or PE class during my career as an athlete, ultimately, I would enjoy that environment. But I needed a bit of time to get over my own fallout – and I’ve given myself enough room to do that now.”

He had been renovating barns and doing landscaping work when this construction job was outlined. So many sportspeople feel bereaved when the door is shut. Austin’s mourning period opened his mind.

“When I had something taken away, I had to look at how the learnings from sport could transfer into other walks of life, so essentially I had to figure out how to come back and be culturally more balanced as a person and less focused on one thing. I think that’s also important in a coach – so it’s been a good learning coming into this.”

There is promising tartan talent to mould. A pipeline to enlarge that might turn on the taps. Potter, he acknowledges, is very much self-made, an Olympian as a runner who bet the house on herself to pivot into an unknown new world, with precious little support from British Triathlon or elsewhere.

“Beth is just an incredibly driven person and kind of fearless,” Austin adds of his fellow Scot. “Hopefully, we can use her as someone to look up to, to see that it is possible to get to the top from Scotland. And she definitely has an attitude that is going to produce medals.”

There is, of course, a medal factory in the office down the hall. The golden garlands acquired by Duncan Scott and Kathleen Dawson in the swimming pool at Tokyo. Any insights that can be pinched, will be, the man with a maths degree picked up from this institution affirms.

“This has always felt like an open space for everyone,” Austin maintains. “We’re not closing off anything for triathlon. You’re rubbing shoulders in that environment which can only help.”