Triathlete Andrea Nightingale has been selected to represent Great Britain for the fourth consecutive year.
The 56-year-old has qualified for the World Age Group Olympic Distance Triathlon Championship, which is being held on the Gold Coast, Australia in September.
‘You can't get a much better venue for a triathlon than the Gold Coast but each year it is getting harder and harder, not only because there are now a lot more women competing in the qualifiers, 22 this year, but the standard seems to be getting better and better. To qualify, you have to be within 115% of the winning time and in the top three to obtain an automatic place. The winner came up from the age group below and with an overall time of 2:22:16 there was not a lot of margin for error,’ she said.
To ensure she was ready, Nightingale had been training between 10 and 13 hours a week since Christmas, focusing on each of the swim, run and bike disciplines for three sessions and spending up to five hours each weekend on the bike.
‘I had had a few niggles in both knees which had hindered my running and two weeks before the event, I had a really bad dose of flu which knocked me out completely so I really didn’t feel at my best on the start line,’ she said.
‘But it's amazing how the body responds when you want it to and I amazed myself finishing within the same minute as my personal best time,2:36:56, which placed me second of those qualifying for Australia. I was seventh out of the water and was the fastest in my age group on the bike with a 1:07:11, which put me in third overall at the start of the run but as usual this was the really tough bit for me and I ended up sixth crossing the line. I do put myself under immense pressure as my expectations are always so high. There was an agonising wait for three or four days and it was a huge relief to find the Q against my name on the list.’
Nightingale has also qualified for the ITU Multi-Sport World Aquabike Championship event in Fyn, Denmark in July. The race, which is only in its second year, has a different qualification process with times being submitted to a panel. Nightingale has qualified second in the GB rankings for her age group.
‘An aquabike is nothing like the tri as it is a 3km swim following by a 120km bike ride, however I am really excited about this it as once the bike it finished then that’s it - no run which for me is absolutely fantastic.’
The selected athletes receive no financial support from Tri England and so have to self-fund their trips to both qualifiers and the championships. Nightingale is once again being sponsored by Ravenscroft.
‘Without Ravenscroft, who have sponsored me over the last three years, I would not have been able to continue as long as I have. It has made a huge difference to my ability to compete in so many events and to have the equipment I have and I cannot thank them enough for their continued support. I must also thank Russ and Paul at TriFitness for all their patience and the hours they put into the training side, not only looking after me, but all their triathletes that are aspiring to become the best they can be,’ she said.
Nightingale said she hopes her achievements can inspire others.
‘I sometimes wonder why I put myself through all this but I think it's because I can. I want to be able to let everyone know that they can do anything with a bit of determination and dedication,’ she said.
‘My body is lasting out and I want to make the most of it before it gives up. I have travelled to the most amazing places, met some incredible people and made some fantastic friends. At 56 years old who would have thought I would be travelling the world competing in sports that I truly enjoy, well apart from the running bit.’
Nightingale has one more qualifying weekend at the Tour of Cambridgeshire on 2nd and 3rd June where she will be attempting a 25km time trial and a 126km road race to qualify for the UCI World Age Group Cycling Championships in Italy in August.
Mark Bousfield, group managing director of Ravenscroft, congratulated Nightingale on another successful start to the season.
‘Andrea’s passion and commitment is inspiring as it can’t be easy combining a demanding job with such an intense training schedule. Andrea is one of a number of athletes supported by Ravenscroft and each one of them is an ambassador for Guernsey,’ he said.