Mike strikes gold in Israel

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LAST year Rugby Triathlon Club’s Mike Smallwood was a British, European and World sprint champion.

Now he’s the 2012 European sprint champion too, having just won the title in Eilat, Israel.

Not only did Mike win his own age group for 65-69 year-olds by an incredible 12 minutes.

His time of 1 hour 16 minutes would also have won the age group below by five minutes. It also made him the fastest Great Britain team athlete among the over 55s - not bad when he is actually 65!

“I had a good swim, which was in the Red Sea,” said Mike. “It was a long way from the beach to transition, but when I got there, there was no one else in my age group, which was nice.

“On the bike stage I wasn’t overtaken and was going well, overtaking people who had started ten minutes before me, but you never know who is behind you, so you have to keep going.

“I had quite a good run and crossing the line it’s always a great feeling to finish, but to know you have won is even better.

“It is an honour to represent your country at a major championship and even at my age it’s a great feeling.”

This was Mike’s tenth time in a Great Britain vest since 2007. Since then triathlon has taken him all over the world from Canada to Australia and Beijing.

His next major event is the British Championships and he is planning a Half Iron Man in September in the south of France.

Mike’s also considering going to the world championships in Aukland, New Zealand.

Fellow Rugby Triathlon club member Samantha Anderson only took up triathlon in 2010, but she has now represented Great Britain on four occasions.

And every time she is improving, with her best result so far being fifth place in the 25-29 age group in Israel and eighth woman overall.

The sprint event for all athletes involves a 750m swim, 20k bike ride and 5k run, which Sam covered in 1 hour 15 minutes.

In previous events Sam was 11th in the world championships, ninth in the European duathlon and seventh in the European triathlon.

“I had a really good swim and was seventh in my age group, whereas I’m normally last!” said Sam, who was a junior England hockey international.

“I’d decided to wear a wet suit, so transition took a little longer. On the bike we started into a headwind, but I caught seven girls until the turnaround.

“I started the run in sixth overall, but my running hasn’t be going that well.

“I thought I was going to get a medal, but then someone overtook me and I just had to hang on.

“The final run was pretty tough, but I was pleased with my race and I knew I had done my best.

“I’m very proud to be representing my country and it’s an honour to be there.”

Sam will be competing in the world duathlon championships in Nancy, France and has an international triathlon in Malta in October.

Both Mike and Sam are keen to encourage newcomers into their sport. For more information visit: www.rugbytriathlon.org.uk