Cricklade triathlete battles through the pain barrier to win
TWELVE months ago, Cricklade’s stellar triathlete Emma-Kate Lidbury won her first Ironman 70.3 event in Majorca.
She added wins in similar events on Exmoor and in Augusta, as well as finishing eighth in the World Championship in Las Vegas.
At the end of 2012, Lidbury was ranked third in the world.
So she was not about to let something as trifling as a gaping wound in her knee prevent her from successfully defending her title in Majorca last week.
Former journalist-turned pro triathlete Lidbury had already proved she has the physical attributes to compete with the best on the planet.
On Majorca, she showed enormous mental strength to overcome the sort of injury that would have caused even seasoned athletes to quit.
In the swim and the bike phase everything had gone according to plan and Emma-Kate had led the field from the outset.
What was not scripted was for her to come crashing off her bike in the transition ahead of the final run, leaving her knee sliced open and blood everywhere.
“I was being tended to by first-aiders eager to clean my wounds and I made the mistake of looking down,” she said.
“Argh! I could see inside my knee. I decided it was best not to look at that anymore.”
She set off on the 13.1-mile run section, giving herself a lap to see how she would fare.
“The first lap was ugly,” she said. “Although I could actually run, I was not in a good place mentally. I genuinely thought I would have to pull out.”
But that was when the crowd alongside the route helped her pull through.
“When you hear men standing on benches shouting “We love you, Emma-Kate’ it can’t help but make you smile and transport you to a whole new world where everything is good, fun and positive,” she said.
“And when I turned into the finish chute to take the win and my fourth Ironman 70.3 title, I was one happy little camper.”
The ability to overcome such a setback and still win has given her a huge boost.
“The victory did an awful lot for my confidence,” Lidbury admitted. “I had to dig deep and mentally I now know I can turn things around if I need to.”
She is about to resume full training after her enforced injured break.
“The Spanish lady orthopaedic surgeon who put three stitches in my knee did a wonderful job as the knee is now completely healed,” she said. “Social media sites are amazing as I have been consulting with her on Twitter.
“In fact, the wound on my ankle has been giving me more trouble and has kept me out of the pool.
“I was told to have ten days of complete rest and that is now up so I am getting itchy feet to get back into full training.
“I am due to compete in the Ironman 70.3 Switzerland on June 3 but that must be up in the air now. And I would have to feel really strong to defend my Ironman 70.3 UK title at Wimbleball on June 17.
“But, of course, the World Championship in Las Vegas on September 9 is what my season is geared towards.
“I feel I am a much better triathlete than I was 12 months ago and, as I am still ranked No.3 in the world, I have to be aiming for a place on the podium.”