Daglingworth triathlete in top form ahead of world title bid
STEVE YATES heads off to Northern Spain in less than three weeks aiming for nothing less than a top-three finish at the World Long Course Triathlon Championships.
Yates, from Daglingworth, won his age-group category (44-49 years) for the second year in a row at the British Middle Distance Championships on Sunday.
He lost out in the overall title race at Emberton Country Park in Bucks to Tom Sturdy – 20 years his junior – in a field of 550 competitors. Just two minutes separated the pair and the result confirmed that Yates is in the form of his life.
“I had a great race and was really pleased to retain the British Age Group title,” said Yates. “With a final time of 4hr 9min 39sec, I managed to take five minutes off my time in 2011.”
The unseasonal weather had not been conducive to fast times, the championships taking place less than 20 minutes away from British Grand Prix venue Silverstone, which was also hit by foul weather.
“The weather wasn’t great – it rained and was windy,” said Yates. “There had been huge downpours all weekend and as a result the run course had to be re-arranged in order to avoid some serious flooding.”
Yates maintains he might even have given the winner Sturdy a run for his money had he raced alongside him.
“Tom went off in the first group (up to 44years) at 6.30am and I followed with the rest half an hour later,” he said.
“I won my category by nine minutes and I was not flat out. I definitely could have found some more if necessary.
“Whether I could have found two minutes is another matter.”
Yates heads off to Spain three days before the world championship takes place on Sunday, July 29.
A former Wales international badminton star, Yates almost completed the treble of national triathlon age group titles in 1999 after switching sports, winning the Sprint and Middle Distance Championships and finishing runner-up in the Olympic distance version.
The following year he picked up a bronze medal in Perth, Australia at the World Championships.
With age has come greater endurance and he now rates the long distance event his best chance of world title success.
“I am going to have to get close to the six-hour barrier for the course (4km swim; 120km bike ride; 30km run) to win in Spain but my running has really improved in the last 12 months so it is doabl;e,” he said.
“My preparation has gone fantastically well and if I can hold it all together on the day, I must have a chance of getting on the podium and perhaps even winning.
“The competition will be super-strong but I have not been beaten in my age group over Sprint, Olympic and Middle Distances for three years now.”