Beth Potter has been world champion for almost two weeks now.

The reality of occupying such a lofty position has, she admits, barely begun to sink in.

And it might still be another good few weeks before the magnitude of what she’s achieved really hits home with the 31-year-old.

Scotland has relatively few world champions. And amongst that select group, none have done it in the manner in which Potter has.

Just seven years ago, she wasn’t even a triathlete. That now, she’s on top of the world, is, objectively and indisputably, astonishing.

Potter’s is a story of determination, perseverance and tenacity, as well as glory.

But there are few world champions in global sport who are more deserving of the title than the Glaswegian.

When Potter announced, in early 2017, that she was switching from athletics to triathlon, it was met by many with utter incredulity.

She had, after all, been a world class distance runner, finishing 34th in the final of the 10,000m at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

For someone with such pedigree on the track to walk away from it all and start on the very bottom rung of the ladder in triathlon seemed like a mad decision.

But Potter’s bravery has now been vindicated, in the best possible way.

And she did it in style.

At the Triathlon Grand Series Finals in the Spanish city of Pontevedra two weeks ago, Potter went into the race second in the rankings behind her great rival, Cassandre Beaugrand of France.

There were a number of eventualities that would have seen Potter crowned world champion but she ensured no calculators were required, blowing the field away in the latter stages of the race to ensure she crossed the line in first place and in the process, became world champion in emphatic fashion.

When we speak, Potter is in California having jetted straight to the US following her world title win for the Malibu Super League event, in which she finished fourth.

Despite the whirlwind that the past fortnight has been, she can still clearly recall the moment the realisation hit that she was going to be crowned world champion. But given her hectic schedule, it’s somewhat unsurprising that she’s yet to come to terms with her achievement.

“In the race, I didn’t feel great for quite a while – I got really cold in the swim and I got cramp and so I didn’t actually start to feel good until towards the end of the bike,” she says.

“But I hit the ground running on the run and I felt really good and in control.

The Herald: Beth Potter is the new world triathlon champion

“It was at 5km in the run that I thought I might win. But it wasn’t until the last lap that I started to think it was actually going to happen. 

“I was overwhelmed with emotions – relief was the main thing I felt.

“I’ve still not had time to fully process it and it still feels very surreal – I really don’t have any words for it.”

Potter’s world title comes at the end of what has been something of a dream season.

She went into this year without a single World Triathlon Series win – the top-rated events in the sport – to her name but immediately, she rectified that and put down a marker for the season.

In March, at the season opener, she won the Abu Dhabi World Series race, before following that up with a second World Series win in June in Montreal. Added to that, this summer saw her collect the Arena Games title, World Sprint Championships silver and, most notably, first place in the Olympic test event in Paris in August.

Such performances are a testament to the steady and continual improvement of the Scot.

Despite having begun her sporting life as a junior competitive swimmer, her expertise was as a runner and, in her early days as a triathlete, she was far from world-class in the pool or on the bike.

However, basing herself in Leeds and training alongside some of the world’s best triathletes, including the Brownlee brothers, Potter has, year on year, crept up the world rankings.

But even she herself admits she never had full conviction that she’d reach this point, on top of the world.

“I said it out loud once back in the early days that I wanted to be world champion but I didn’t actually think I would definitely do it,” she says. 

“I thought I maybe had a chance of doing well but that was it.

“So to be here now, it’s a crazy position to be in. And it’s pretty cool.”

It’s only recently that Potter has transformed herself from underdog to race favourite.

It’s been easy, watching Potter this season, to assume that she’s as relaxed and in control on the inside as she looks on the outside.

This assumption could not be further from the truth, however.

The analogy of a swan, looking graceful and elegant on the surface while paddling furiously underneath, applies perfectly to Potter.

And somewhat surprisingly for someone at her level, she’s not afraid to reveal how stressful and anxiety-inducing a season she’s found it.

“Ahead of the test event race in Paris, I was a nervous wreck. I was thinking of every eventuality and I literally didn’t sleep for three days beforehand. I had a meltdown on the Champs-Élysées when I was warming up. I bent over the railings and started crying and was thinking, I really don’t want to do this. But then suddenly, something changed in my head and I came out of it,” she says.

The Herald: MALIBU, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Beth Potter at the Super League Triathlon, Malibu on September 17, 2022 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Malibu Triathlon & Super League Triathlon  ).

“I don’t think I was the easiest person to live with this year - I was very on edge, and I was probably pretty unbearable.

“It’s funny, when you’re at training, it’s all a bit of an act. You’re not rude to your training partners and you have a laugh but then you get home and after putting on that face for everyone at training, the energy to do it at home as well just isn’t there. 

“So I found that when I got home, I’d be in a foul mood and be really stressed-out and anxious It’s just a very high pressure situation.”

Potter’s world title is a rebuke to everyone who doubted she was doing the right thing in switching sports from athletics to triathlon, and those who, in the early days, suggested she wasn’t good enough.

She’s emerged as one of the most popular, and respected, women in the sport.

But the past six and a half years have been far from a bed of roses.

Despite her obvious potential, she was dropped from funding a few years ago meaning she had to be entirely self-sufficient as well as having to contend with something of a running commentary from observers about her progress.

So it’s not, she admits, been all smooth sailing.

“The training is so hard. It’s long, long hours, especially on the bike and in the winter, it’s so often in sh*t conditions. There’s early mornings in the pool, late nights on the track and it’s tough so I have had times when I didn’t want to do it. What’s made it all possible is having great people to train with,” she says. 

“Mentally, it’s been tough too – just the whole uncertainty of knowing if I’d be good enough.

“And it was really tiring hearing people say I wasn’t good at this or I needed to improve at that – I found that pretty demoralising. There were a lot of unsolicited opinions about me and that was tough because it was just incredibly unhelpful. That knocked my confidence.

“But actually, I don’t care what other people think. I had this inkling that I could do it and the people close to me thought I was the best athlete on the start line and that’s what matters.”

Potter has one more race this season – the Superleague Grand Finale in Saudi Arabia at the end of this month – before she’ll have the opportunity to properly celebrate her remarkable world title win, as well as enjoy a well-earned holiday.

But despite this season having not yet ended, the inevitable question is about next summer’s Olympic Games, for which she has now secured automatic qualification.

Paris 2024 will be Potter’s second Olympic Games, but first in triathlon, and she will head across the Channel as one of the hot tips to win gold.

Potter’s well aware of the pitfalls of being an Olympic gold medal favourite but, having not only faced excruciatingly high levels of pressure this season, but overcome them, she now possesses an inner belief that there’s nothing the 2024 Olympics can throw at her that she won’t be able to handle.

“I’ve not really thought too much about the Olympics yet but it’s starting to sink in that I’ll be going in as one of, if not the favourite. That’s a lot of pressure but it’s also a huge privilege,” she says. 

"Winning the World Champs, though, takes the pressure off me in some respects going into the Olympics. Having done well this year, I know what to do. There’s evidence now that I’ve got what it takes.

"I don’t need to say it out loud to know what I want to do at the Olympics. If it’s not gold and it’s still a medal then ok, but I’m going to go all-in to get the gold.

“The nerves are going to be pretty awful but hopefully the result next summer will make up for it. 

“I feel like I can deal with anything now – triumph or tragedy, I can cope with it all.”