A two-time Paralympian and endurance world record holder, Mel Nicholls loves adventure and it’s this and her passion for sport which has taken her all around the world, including two Paralympic Games, World and European medals and setting world endurance records.
Her latest challenge is paratriathlon and, after taking part in her first paratri event in May 2022, by the end of the same year Mel was representing Great Britain at the World Triathlon Para Championships.
Mel continues to live her life by adventure despite a series of life-changing strokes. Her third stroke in 2008 left her unable to walk without crutches and limited her use of her left side, but she was determined to return to the adventurous and active lifestyle she had enjoyed before.
Four years after watching the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games from her hospital bed, Mel raced in front of an 80,000 home crowd at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, just 15 months after taking up wheelchair racing.
After reaching the Paralympic final in the T34 200m, Mel went on to have international success on the track at the World and European Championships including breaking the 1500m world record while racing in Grosseto, Italy in 2013, a record that had stood for more than ten years. Mel later broke the same record twice in 2014.
Alongside the records were medals on the track too. In 2014, Mel claimed European silver (T34 800m) and bronze (T34 100m) in Swansea, before World silver a year later in the T34 800m in Doha.
Mel was selected to represent ParalympicsGB again at Rio 2016, reaching the final despite illness, before making the switch from the shorter distances on the track to marathon, endurance road racing and handcycling at the end of 2016.
In May 2017, Mel gained selection onto the Great Britain Paracycling Team, achieving medal success on the world stage and the national champion jersey in her first year.
It was the combination of the two and wanting to train with others that saw Mel first get involved in swim, bike, run, joining her local club, Tewkesbury Triathlon Club at the end of 2019.
Although her introduction to the sport was interrupted due to the Covid pandemic, after enjoying her time at the club and the training, Mel took part in her first paratriathlon event in the British Triathlon Super Series in Llanelli in May 2022.
This was the start of a whirlwind few months for Mel. Three months later, the Tewkesbury-based athlete was lining up on the World Triathlon Para Series start line for the first time, finishing fourth at Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea and only 21 seconds off a podium place.
Golds at World Triathlon Para Cup Alhandra and Europe Triathlon Para Cup Bari followed in September, before Mel finished fifth at her first World Triathlon Para Championships in Abu Dhabi in November.
No stranger to breaking boundaries, Mel loves a challenge. Mel set a world record in 2019 when handcycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in under seven days and in 2021 took on an even bigger challenge, only a year after having a 5kg ovarian tumour removed.
Mel handcycled 4,800 miles around the coast of the UK in 75 days unsupported – the furthest distance ridden by a handcycle.