Triathlete Hywel Davies is celebrating becoming the European Long Course champion after a challenging event in Tampere, Finland.
The Rugby Triathlon Club star won the overall gold and was first home in his age group on a course that included a 4k swim, 120km bike ride and 30k run.
Hywel completed the swim in a brown choppy lake and smelly canal in 58.36. Next he clocked 2-50.51 for the cycling stage and then beat his two-hour target for the run with 1-59.50.
“It was a noisy swim, not just your own rhythm but the waves on your face made it hard to settle,” said Hywel, assistant head at Harris School.
“I exited the water feeling good. It felt longer than any ironman, even in the early days, so I was pleasantly surprised with 58 minutes. The fastest age group swim was 56.19 and I was in the chase group.”
On a cool morning, with light winds and good roads Hywel then cycled very well. “On the turns I could see gaps opening and perhaps I should have ridden harder earlier, as laps five and six started to push the average speed back up,” he recalls. “A few punctured, a few crashed, but I was on the home straight with no idea how I was doing in the age group race, but I knew I was riding as quickly as those in the elite race.”
After the second transition into running shoes, it only took Hywel 400m to take the lead in the age group race and although he would like to think he could have run faster, he did enough to see off all his rivals and take the title.
“Going to Finland gave me a good race and a good test,” he said. “It showed me my swimming is heading in the right direction and I can ride with the elite field. I am happy to have won a European gold medal and best of all I’m still learning and getting faster.
“In terms of stringing all three areas together I think this was my best ever race.”