Hartlepool athlete out to create a legacy as he represents his country
A Hartlepool athlete hopes to return home victorious when he represents Great Britain in a major event in Germany next week.
Matt Turnbull will join hundreds of athletes in the European Duathlon Championships in Kalkar.
The 38-year-old was the fastest Briton last year but suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for six months.
Duathlon is a multi-sport that combines running and cycling.
Matt, of Seaton Carew, said: “Fingers crossed, I can go one better than last year and get a top-three spot and come back with a medal.
“I know I have the ability.”
Matt, a triathlon coach, finished eight in last year’s event in Madrid.
“I was the fastest Brit,” he said. “It means I didn’t have to qualify this year, which is really lucky as straight after the race last year I had quite a serious shoulder injury and had an operation.
“I was out until November and was out of shape and couldn’t do any qualifying races.
“I have worked furiously on getting my fitness back to what it was if not better.” Matt has been getting back in shape by using the gym facilities at Hartlepool College of Further Education and taking advantage of the seafront near his home.
He will compete in the intensive sprint even,t which comprises of a 5km run followed by a 20-25 mile bike race and a final 2.5km run to the finishing line.
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He did it last year in about 58 minutes.
“It is very, very intense,” said Matt, who previously worked as a PE teacher.
He is the only athlete from Hartlepool to qualify for the event in Germany next Saturday.
But he believes the town has the potential to produce many others like him.
“There has been an explosion on the multi-sport scene, but it is still very quiet in Hartlepool.”
But he said the sport is growing. Hartlepool Triathletes Club has grown from just a dozen members in 2013 to about 80 currently.
Matt added: “We obviously have a lot of talented people in our town, but people haven’t really seen the beauty of multi-sport.
“I am the only person in Hartlepool to have qualified for Great Britain for the last four years.
“I know there are other people out there who could do what I am doing.
“I am trying to create a legacy in Hartlepool for future generations.”
Matt has taken part in three previous duathlon European championships.