I left England for Brazil in 1971 as a 25-year-old who had never dreamed of competing in her life. Ten years later I returned to take part in the Avon Womens Marathon, a novice marathoner amidst a small group of illustrious marathoners with names such as Joyce Smith and Joan Benoit. But I had decided that my first marathon would have to be in London. My marathon times later improved somewhat with the technical help of people like Chris Brasher who was later to become the Director of the London Marathon. Unfortunately, on the way to achieving my potential, I got a bad case of plantar fascitis and resorted to swimming and biking to maintain fitness. A few months later my life changed forever. To my amazement, I won the first triathlon held in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and became a triathlete (And an Ironman, as the prize was a trip to the 1983 Kona Ironman – only five months later!) The next year I won another trip to Kona and brought back an age-group award.
Over the next few years I became a very competitive triathlete, but decided to retire at 40 to coach my fourteen year old daughter, who became the youngest competitor at the first Triathlon World Championship in Avignon. Ironically, she did her first Ironman in Kona last year at the age of forty. In London we will be sharing a bike as my Sprint distance is on Friday and her Olympic race is on Sunday.
Fast forward twenty years, and now living in the US. My daughter persuades me to get out my dusty bike and train for a local duathlon, which happens to be the qualifier for the 2006 World Duathlon Championships. I am nervous and lack confidence, but managed to win my age-group. I did, however, realize that I was not yet prepared to complete the distance required in the Worlds. Three years later I won a bronze medal at the Duathlon World Championships in North Carolina.
In 20l0 I am over-ambitious and am entered in both the Duathlon in Edinburgh and the Triathlon in Budapest, but have a hamstring injury, and both events prove to be horribly painful experiences. Unfortunately, the American Nationals were two weeks later and taking part would have been unthinkable. I see my chances of doing a better race the next year in China gone forever. Fortunately, Brazil is happy to let me compete for them just on my triathlon history. I thank them by winning a gold medal for Brazil in China in 20ll and a second gold in Auckland in 2012. I would have been quite happy with that but couldn’t resist taking part in a triathlon through the streets of London. So if you see a 67-yr-old lady with a Brazilian tri-suit who has just flown in from the States with a British accent – you already have the answers to some of your questions!