East Grinstead takes on the World
While the majority of the country may be suffering post-Olympic blues two members of East Grinstead Triathlon Club have continued to fly the Great Britain flag, competing at the amateur sprint triathlon World Championships in New Zealand. On Monday 22 October Martin Darlison, 50 of East Grinstead, placed 17th out of 77 competitors in the 50-54 age group, while fellow club member Michael Diebel, 66, finished 23rd out of 27 competitors in the very closely fought 65-69 age group.
However reaching the final was no mean feat itself. As well as many arduous months of up to six training sessions a week, the triathletes battled against their peers in several national qualification races which, like the final, involved a 750m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run.
Michael, who only joined East Grinstead Tri Club two years, grabbed his slot on Team GB in the first of his three qualifiers, taking second place in his age group with a finishing time of 1 hour 24 minutes. Before flying out to New Zealand he remained particularly modest about his achievements. He said: “While I went through the same qualifying process as Martin, there was a lot more competition in his age group than in mine. Still, as I am reminded, you can only beat those that turn up.”
Unlike Michael, who was competing in his first World Championship, Martin was representing Great Britain at a World Final for the fifth time. However the founding member and head coach of East Grinstead Tri Club was not being complacent. “As well as my six training sessions a week I have also cut down on cake and red wine. That shows how seriously I’m taking this,” he joked.
While a good overall ability in all three aspects of triathlon is required both Martin and Michael stated that their approach to the World Championships would be dictated by their favoured disciplines. Martin, who is a strong runner, said: “My race tactics are to try and get ahead of the melee in the swim, attempt to hold that position on the bike and leave just enough in the tank to push up a place or two in the run. You have to cross the line with nothing at all left to give.”
Michael had a slightly different approach. He said: “I think my strongest discipline is the bike, which tends to dictate tactics as I try to go fairly hard on the bike and hold on for the run after a steadier swim.”
While they intend to enjoy all the spectacular sights New Zealand has to offer following their success in New Zealand, the East Grinstead triathletes are already focused on the next season of racing.
Michael said: “My wife and I are spending three weeks touring New Zealand in a motor home, resting after a long season of racing. Then I start training again for the World Championships next year, which are being held in Hyde Park.”
Martin said: “After the race I will enjoy a glass or two of the best New Zealand red wine and a holiday touring the north and south islands. Then it’s back home to begin some gentle training working up to next summer season to start again.”