Two aspiring triathletes are carrying the hopes of family, friends and the Deepings with them on one of the biggest stages in their sport.
Kayleigh Adams (19) of Deeping St James and Abi Schofield (25) who, until recently, lived in Market Deeping, are part of a near 700-strong squad for the ETU (European Triathlon Union) European Triathlon Championships in Geneva, Switzerland.
The championships start with an opening ceremony and parade of nations last night, before Kayleigh and Abi, now based in Peterborough, both compete in the Age Group Sprint Distance event this morning.
Kayleigh, said: “I’ve recently been at a training camp with 2014 World Triathlon Series champion Gwen Jorgensen (of the USA) and Australian ex-World Junior Champion Ashleigh Gentle in Spain.
“We did a lot of focusing on running and cycling where I managed to keep up with Gwen which has given me a bit of a confidence boost before the championships. It would be nice to get a good result but I’m not putting any pressure on myself and whatever happens on the day happens.”
It has been a meteoric rise for Kayleigh, a student at Bourne Academy and a member of Spalding Triathlon Club, Spalding Cycling Club and Deepings Swimming Club.
Two years ago, the ex- Lincolnshire Army Cadet had never even completed a triathlon until her mum, Clare Wookey, persuaded to enter the Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon 2013, where she came second in her age group (girls 15-19).
Clare said: “Having spent a week in the Spanish Basque region, training with some of the world’s best triathletes, Kayleigh has learnt a great deal about what it takes to move up to the next level.
“She’s raced hard over the last few weeks which has been tough, but she’s excited about the Europeans where Kayleigh will be up against tough competitors.”
Meanwhile, Abi is going to Geneva with the extra honour of being named captain of Team GB’s 25-39 women’s squad and on the back of having come through her first Olympic distance triathlon event, the Dambuster Triathlon at Rutland Water two weeks ago where she came seventh in her age group.
The special needs teacher and Nene Valley Harrier athlete only took up triathlon 14 months ago and has successfully brought in sponsorship from the likes of Rutland Sports in Bourne and Terry Wright Cycles of Deeping St James.
Abi said: “I’m both nervous and excited about being captain of the GB team, as well as a little overwhelmed because some of the women’s 25-29 team are first-timers and others are really experienced, highly-qualified triathletes.
“But doing a triathlon every single week has really helped me and now I know all the small details that I need to know about. I’m going into Geneva with an open mind and in my head, I’m going to race as hard as I can.”
Both Kayleigh and Abi have the backing of experienced triathlon coaches, Dr Judith Brand – who has also worked with another Spalding Triathlon Club member, Aimee Stocker – and Stefan Lawrence, a former triathlete himself.
Dr Brand said: “Until two years ago, Kayleigh wasn’t even a triathlete but a swimmer. But she’s been working on her running off the bike which is something that non-triathletes don’t appreciate. We’ve got a long way to go with Kayleigh, but she’s very focused and I believe she can get to world level triathlon.”