A town athlete was a runaway success when he represented Great Britain at a European event, winning a bronze medal.
Matt Turnbull, from Seaton Carew, earned a podium spot in his age category in the European Duathlon Championships – a sport combining cycling and running – in Germany.
And the 38-year-old then won a silver medal a week later in the prestigious Triathlon England National Duathlon Championship held on the doorstep in Stockton.
Matt was the only athlete from Hartlepool to qualify for the European championships in Kalkar but hopes his success will spur others on.
He said: “I didn’t expect to get an international bronze then a national silver literally the same week. My head was spinning.
“I surprised myself.”
I didn’t expect to get an international bronze then a national silver literally the same weekMatt Turnbull
Matt, who coaches triathlon, had to overcome a painful shoulder injury and lose two stones in the run up to the European championships.
Fortunately, he was automatically entered and did not have to qualify after being the fastest Briton the previous year.
Matt competed in the intensive Sprint event which involved a 5km run followed by a 20-25 mile bike race and a final 2.5km run to the finishing line.
He added: “I didn’t believe I was capable.
“It was the faith of my wife and family and closest friends that I went into the competition with such high belief.”
He finished eighth overall out of over a hundred competitors from across Europe and third in the age 35-39 sprint category.
Last weekend’s national event around Stockton Riverside was even more of a challenge with a 10km run, 40k bike ride and 5k race.
Over 850 keen competitors took part in the event which is now in its fourth year and also witnessed a healthy crowd of spectators.
Hartlepool College of Further Education’s gym facilities helped him get in shape and took advantage of Seaton’s seafront and Hartlepool promenade.
Matt, who previously worked as a PE teacher, reckons there are many budding athletes in Hartlepool who can also go on to represent the country on the international stage.
“It is hard but achievable. We have some great runners and cyclists in our town who can represent the country at all ages.
“I want to help others who feel like I did and just put Hartlepool on the map.
“I believe we should have a legacy in our town.”