Debbie Coyle is a founder member of Comrades Triathlon Club in London and has raced as part of the Great Britain Age-Group Team a number of times over the last few years.
Having made her debut at the World Championships in 2012 in Auckland, Coyle has raced five times for the team including finishing on the podium in London in 2013 and winning her age group in Ibiza in 2018.
“My first experience was pretty amazing, pretty awesome,” Coyle said of racing in Auckland. “At that point I’d literally just started triathlon at the end of 2011 and had some clubmates who said I’d got potential.
“I had no expectation when going out there, I was just happy to put the GB kit on, and when I went out there I was the first British girl home.”
As well as being the first female Brit to cross the line, Coyle also came sixth in the 35-39 age group, with her eyes set on competing at a home championships with London set to host the World Championships in 2013.
“I realised that the next worlds was going to be in London and I thought, ‘that’s one I’d really like to go to’,” Coyle commented.
“I went to the Europeans first which was in Turkey and I got silver there which was really cool. Then I qualified for London with that [her silver at the European Championships] and I got bronze in London at the worlds, so I was really pleased.”
For Coyle, the experience of racing in London was an amazing thing to have been part of, however, as she explains, the experience of being part of the team at any championships is one to remember and strive to get involved with.
“How do I find the whole experience? - Absolutely amazing,” she added. “I just think it’s so nice that even when you get a bit older, we’re able to carry on in the sport. Now because age group is done by the age bracket it’s inclusive which I like.
“I was brought up in South Africa so the thought of ever representing your country was never going to be an option, so when I came over here and I heard about triathlon and how you could qualify for your country, I think the idea that you could represent your country really inspired me.”
Whilst the pandemic has stopped members of the Great Britain Age-Group Team from competing internationally in 2020 and 2021, Coyle has been able to visit some stunning locations through the events.
“I’ve got a friend in my old club and he was an old guy racing in the 70s and he uses the Age-Group Team to travel the world because it does take you to some lovely places.
“You would expect it to be quite competitive and that everyone’s out to beat everyone but I didn’t get that feeling at all. I found the team captains were very supportive, especially for the newbies. You go out there knowing exactly what’s happening, where you need to be. It’s very, very professionally done.
“The last time I represented GB was the European Middle Distance Champs in Ibiza [in 2018], and that one in my career in triathlon was my absolute highlight. I exceeded well above my expectations, coming in second female over the whole field of all age groups and I got the gold there.
To find out more about the Age-Group Team and how you can by follow in Coyle’s footsteps and qualify to race in 2022, click on the button below to visit the Age-Group webpage.