FOR a woman who only took up her favoured sport three-and-a-half years ago, Katie Gill has come quite some way.
The 39-year-old, who competes in the triathlon, travelled to Edmonton, Canada, in late-August to compete in the World Championships.
She finished 18th out of 64 in her age category, and was the second British athlete home as she shone on the big stage.
However, home is where the heart is for Gill, who is originally from Hartlepool.
In mid-September, she won the Big Lime Triathlon in her home town for the second year in a row as she saw off a strong field.
The race involved swimming 750m in the marina, followed by a 20km cycle around laps of Seaton Carew and a 5km run along the promenade and back.
Gill, who now lives in Leeds with fellow triathlete husband Rob and represents Leeds Bradford Triathlon Club, says she was actually MORE nervous about the race in Hartlepool than the showpiece in Canada.
She told SportsMail: “I had competed in Edmonton in the World Championships about two weeks earlier, and that was good.
“I was actually slightly more nervous about the Hartlepool race than the Worlds, though.
“You know you aren’t going to medal at the Worlds, so there was a bit more pressure on me in the Hartlepool race.
“When you get to the Worlds, you enjoy the festival atmosphere.
“It was just different, and I really wanted to win in Hartlepool because I had done so previously.
“That had never happened to me before and might never happen again.”
Gill has fallen in love with the race over the last two years, although she did get quite a shock when she jumped into the marina.
“It’s a brilliant event,” she added. “Hartlepool is very lucky to have the marina just on the doorstep, and to be able to swim in there is amazing.
“The fact the roads were closed was fantastic, and it’s a fast and flat course, so it’s attractive to people who want a personal best.
“The run along the prom was brilliant, and it’s a really, really good race that can only get bigger.
“It’s just a shame you can’t turn the temperature up in the marina – it was a bit cold this year!
“I do a lot of events, and this one is really up there for value for money.
“It’s a lovely race, is well-supported and seemed to be slightly bigger and better this year.”
Gill is a mum to son Nicholas, 6, and daughter Scarlett, 4.
She says it takes “discipline” to combine looking after her children with a full-time job and triathlon training, while she admits her children do not quite share her enthusiasm for the sport.
Gill said: “My children are just blasé about it!
“They are probably quite fed up of being dragged along to triathlon races!
“My little boy entered a duathlon recently, but he was probably more interested in kicking a football about with the boys.
“The children do like it when I get a medal and give it to them.
“It takes a lot of discipline to juggle work and training with looking after the children, and my husband does it as well.
“I renovate houses so I don’t have a set time to work.
“It’s difficult, as there are always school pick-ups to do, and when you have children, you haven’t quite got the free time that you might have had before.
“I can’t complain, though, as I’m competing against many people in similar situations in my age category.”
Gill has only been competing in triathlon for three-and-a-half years – she had been a keen runner and cyclist with husband Rob.
She now has her sights set on another discipline – the cross triathlon.
That event involves more mountain biking, and Gill says she would like to make the Great Britain cross triathlon team in the near future.
“I’d like to get into cross triathlon,” she added. “That would be a new area for me.
“There is more mountain biking, and trail running, and you’re often swimming in the sea with a beach start.
“To make the GB cross triathlon team is a goal I would like to reach.”
- DANIEL PRINCE