Cole collects world bronze 10 years after taking up tri at 60
Taking up triathlon at the age of 50 has turned out to be a smart move for Bishop's Stortford woman Karen Cole.
A runner up until that “big birthday”, Cole was convinced by a couple of friends to try out swimming and cycling.
That inspired her to take up a new challenge and, after giving a triathlon relay a go, a move into full triathlons and even Ironman races followed.
Now, a decade on, she is celebrating putting a bronze medal in her collection after coming third at the Triathlon Age Group World Championships in Rotterdam.
The Roding Valley Tri member has represented Great Britain at European and world level for the last five years and was overjoyed to see her hard work pay off this time around in the 60-64 age group.
And an extra-special bonus was that her performance over the 750m swim, technical 20km bike ride and 5km run also pre-qualified her for next year’s world championships on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“It was quite unexpected. I’m not a habitual medallist and it was the first time for me – I’m not usually near the sharp end,” said 60-year-old Cole, who lives in Cricketfield Lane.
“I was feeling confident going into it. I work very closely with all my coaches, so you get to know how things are going and you’re getting good feedback.
“There are other factors, but I can only control me on the day and try to go as fast as I can.
“It makes you think about, if everything goes well on the day, where it might take me.
“It’s about trying to train smart and staying injury and illness free. You want the whole package to come right on race day.”
Cole, who gets good support from husband Gwyn, had warmed up for the event by coming sixth at the European championships in Dusseldorf.
She is now planning her preparations for next year’s Australian adventure, although she knows improving on third place will be challenging.
“As much as I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist,” said Cole.
“With the Brits, I know there are a couple of decent athletes coming up into my age group.
“I’m not daunted by it and you’ve got to be in it to win it.”
And with no limit to racing when it comes to age-group triathlons, Cole could have plenty more opportunities to excel.
“There’s no reason I can’t get to 100 and still be doing it, as long as I don’t get injured.”