Jenny Manners picks up world bronze in London Paratri
WENDY NICHOLLS has become a born again triathlete.
The former GB international runner from Fairford is very much a rookie in her new chosen sport, but she has quickly found out what an addiction competing in triathlons can become.
Nicholls qualified earlier this year for last Sunday’s World Triathlon Championships in London in the 40-44 years category and, on only her second attempt in 2013 at the standard Olympic distance, surprised herself by coming home in 13th position in a time of 2hr 07min.27sec.
What’s more, she did not appreciate how much fun it could be.
Now, having proven to herself that she can compete again on a world stage in the three disciplines of triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – she is aiming for nothing less than the world title.
It was a positively effervescent Wendy who reflected on her London triathlon experience.
"It was bloody hard, but I loved it," she said. "Compared to the seasoned triathletes who have been doing it for years, I am a complete novice – a fish out of water. And I was really nervous before the start.
"But I had lots of family and friends with me and the atmosphere was fantastic.
"I must have made up 20 places on the run section and I overtook four competitors in the last 400 metres."
Now her focus is to have a real crack at a medal when the world championships take place in Edmonton, Canada next year.
"I will be moving up to the 45-49 year category, which has got to be easier, and I am going to focus on my swimming and especially the cycling, my weakest link," she said. "I obviously need to put in the miles on the bike and I intend to work really hard over the winter."
Nicholls was one of the ‘famous five’ ladies who train with Cirencester AC and/or Performance Cycles in Poulton and posted some great results in London.
The remarkable Carol Clark matched Nicholls’ performance by coming 13th in the 60-64 years category Sprint Triathlon in a time of 1:31.44.
"I finished fifth overall and second Brit when going to New Zealand for the world champs last year, but this was a much tougher competition," said Carol. "My swim time could have been better but overall I was satisfied with my 13th and sixth Brit this time.
"I used to run half-marathons but the triathlon gives you much more of a buzz.
"I blame this all on my club mate Diane Moore, or ‘Tri Di’ as we call her. It was her idea to aim for the Worlds in Auckland last year and I agreed just to shut her up!
"Canada next year does not interest me so much as I will be at the top end of my age group but, although I don’t plan much in advance, in 2015 I could be one of the youngest in the 65-69 category when the races will be in Chicago."
Moore finished a very respectable 25th in the 50-54 years Female Sprint Triathlon, the same position recorded by another team-mate, Sarah Gunn, in the 45-49 years Olympic distance category.
Dorothy Liviabella had the misfortune to suffer a puncture which in part explains her 63rd placing in Wendy Nicholls’ 40-44 years race.
There was one Cirencester athlete on the podium in London as Jenny Manners picked up a bronze medal in the Paratri 6b category – when guiding the visually impaired Charlotte Ellis – adding to an already stellar season for the 23-year-old.
Manners finished a career-best third in the British Triathlon Super Series and, along with Ellis, she won a silver medal in both the British Paratri Championships and the Europeans in Turkey.
Once again Jenny and Charlotte had to give best to gold medal-winning Brit Melissa Reid, while the silver this time went to Susan Rodriguez of Spain.
"We always struggle a little on the swim which is Charlotte’s weak point and we got too far adrift," said Jenny, who will take a well-earned break from the sport after competing in France this weekend with her fellow Loughborough Uni team-mates.
"We had a lot of running to do to get into the bronze medal position but the Netherlands girl we were chasing eventually came into view and we passed her on the second and final lap of the run, so it was quite nerve wracking."