I first came across triathlon whilst doing a sports studies and recreation management course at Farnborough in 1980. We read in an American magazine about the Hawaii Ironman and the winner, John Howard and his exploits provided the inspiration. We did a small college based triathlon in the fleet canal!
In 1983 I became a BTA member and did my first official triathlon in 1985. A 400m swim in Droitwich, bike to Evesham and run to Pershore.
There was no local Triathlon club at the time but one of my ex-college housemates lived in London so I became a member of East London Triathletes. In 1987 there was a series of Triathlons which was called the Grand Prix, which relates probably now to age group and I placed 5th in that series. In 1989, with Triathlon becoming ever more popular, the ITU staged the first World Triathlon Championships in Avignon, France. I won my age group in the Grand Prix that year, so was able to wear my first Great Britain vest, and had my first experience of racing on the Continent.
In 1990 I suffered an overuse Achilles injury and didn’t resume competition until 1991, so missed out that year, then in 1992 I qualified for the World Championships in Muskoka, Canada. In 1993 I started to become more interested in half Ironman distance and had one of my best ever races at the Ironbridge race (actually coming first out of the water in the swim) In 1994 I competed in the first world long distance championships in Nice (4k swim, 75km bike and 20mile run) in 7 hrs 59minutes. I then started thinking seriously about the full ironman, all the while competing in Olympic distance races. In 1995 I did the Lanzarote Ironman, acknowledged as one of the toughest, to this day, then on August 15th 1995 everything changed.
I had just been told that I was selected for the second World Long Distance Championships in Nice and was training at every opportunity (including my lunch-hour) when I was hit from behind by a lorry whilst cycling. I was totally unconscious and resuscitated twice in Cheltenham A&E, ambulanced to Frenchay hospital with extra dural hematoma, broken shoulder, clavicle, ribs and a punctured lung. I spent three weeks in intensive care, couldn’t remember who my wife was, and came out weighing just 8st 13lbs and was totally deaf in my right ear.
After a period of rehabilitation, I did try to go back to Triathlon in 1996 and competed in the Ellesmere Championships that year, in 2hrs 30, which totally disheartened me, as I used to do 2hrs 6 for the Olympic distance.
I then focused my attention on cycle time-trialing and in 1997 completed the National 100 in 4hrs 30min and the Welsh National 100 in 4hrs 38min.
With the injuries I sustained, I lost my job as a Sales Director but this enabled me to focus my attention on coaching full time. I already had coaching qualifications dating back from 1978.
Since 1998 my main focus of coaching has been swimming technique and I feel it has been very successful with the use of the Elite Endless Pool and I’m proud of the exploits of young swimmers who have come through with me and are now national standard, on scholarships etc.
With patience and thinking in the long term, we can produce Triathletes who come into T1 fresh after a fast but effortless swim.