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Bishop's Stortford athlete Karen Cole wins age-group gold for Great Britain in ETU AG Sprint Triathlon European Championships



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Karen Cole completed a hat-trick of Great Britain medals with a brilliant age-group success in the ETU AG Sprint Triathlon European Championships.

And the 62-year-old Bishop's Stortford woman's message to anyone considering taking up triathlon, whatever their age? Get out there and do it.

Cole's gold medal in Kazan, Russia came after she won bronze in the world championships in 2017 and silver in this year's Duathlon European Championships in June.

Karen Cole winning gold in the F60-64 category in the ETU AG Sprint Triathlon European Championships
Karen Cole winning gold in the F60-64 category in the ETU AG Sprint Triathlon European Championships

She only started doing the sport at the age of 50 having focused solely on running before that, but has now been representing Team GB at world and European level for seven years.

Cole's Russian adventure was certainly one she will never forget. As well as claiming gold in the F60-64 category in 1hr 27min 23sec, she went on an open-top bus tour of the city to get a feel for the bike route as part of her pre-race preparation before using the looming sight of the Kremlin to keep her on course during the 750m swim in the Kazanka River.

And she realised she had won her race only when she crossed the line and heard her name announced as the gold medallist, having thought there might have been a rival from Germany ahead of her.

Karen in transition following her swim
Karen in transition following her swim

Glory was hers thanks to a 22min 48sec swim, a time of 38.27 in the 20km bike and completing the 5km run in 23.08, with runner-up and fellow GB athlete Helen Evans finishing 35 seconds behind her.

Cole lives in Cricketfield Lane and does some of her training at Grange Paddocks; she is sponsored by Everyone Active as part of its Sporting Champions programme. She is well known in the triathlon community for always racing with a smile on her face.

And she would love to inspire others to get in the water, on their bike and out for a run with her exploits.

"To me it's fun – I love it incredibly," said Cole, whose husband Gwyn is her biggest supporter, while grown-up children Jen, 32, Lizzie, 29, and David, 28, are all hugely proud of her achievements.

Karen during the bike leg of her gold medal-winning performance
Karen during the bike leg of her gold medal-winning performance

"It's such a great sport. Don't get me wrong, it's hard... you're hurting, if you like, but any photo at the finish should be big smiles because you can collapse and relax the next day.

"The whole triathlon community supports each other. I would say to anyone, at any age, if you're thinking 'can I do that?' then definitely do it. Go and join a club."

As well as being the best in her age group in Kazan, Roding Valley Tri member Cole was the 65th female out of 101 competitors and 276th overall.

Karen crossing the Millennium Bridge in Kazan
Karen crossing the Millennium Bridge in Kazan

She is already having to think about her next big event as she will be competing in the world championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she is targeting a top-10 finish, on August 31, only a month after her Russian success.

"You can't change a massive amount in four weeks, but you can keep it all sharp," said Cole, who works with triathlon coach Dermott Hayes, of Be Endurance, and with swim coach Tanja Slater. "It's definitely a physical and mental thing."



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