Having first raced for the Great Britain Age-Group Team in 2010, Sam Anderson was set to make her return for the team this year before illness and event cancellations pushed this back to 2022.
Looking back on how she first got into the sport, Anderson reflects on what it was that has made swim, bike, run and the Great Britain Age-Group Team something she still strives to be part of.
“Triathlon has brought me such variety with the three disciplines, but also the variety of racing opportunities from local to international events,” Anderson commented.
“My first triathlon was in September 2009 and I raced in a qualifier in May 2010, which was only my second open water event, and qualified for the Worlds in Budapest. It was a really quick transition from first getting into it to being able to represent the country.
“Being part of the team has been such a personal achievement for me but has also seen me have a great time visiting over 20 different places around the world that weren’t on my travelling bucket list.”
“I made some great friends who I’m still in touch with despite not having been in the team for a number of years. One thing I’m really looking forward to about re-joining next year is being able to get to know everyone who is now involved in the team who wasn’t when I was racing before.”
Having won a triathlon gold, duathlon silver and aquathlon bronze at European Championship events and competed at numerous other World and European Championships, Anderson took a break from sport in 2014 to start a family.
“I had a complete break with my first child and struggled to get back to exercising once my son was born,” she added. “To help myself get going again, as well as to support others in the same situation, I organised a few ‘Couch to 5k’ sessions and some local GO TRI events.
“It was a real eye opener for me because it brought me right back to the start of my journey having previously been competing for the Age-Group Team.
“I thought I’d go straight back into Age-Group racing after giving birth, but my actual journey has taken many years and I’ve had to slowly build back up. It was nice to be the beginner again and then build up slowly to recording good times and winning local races again.”
Around 3,000 British Triathlon Home Nation members represent the Age-Group Team each year at a variety of multisport championships across Europe and around the world.
Following the birth of her second child and returning to training, Anderson picked up a hip injury which has affected her running. As a result, she turned to aquabike (swim/bike) and was able to qualify for the European Championships in her age group.
“I medalled in triathlon, duathlon and aquathlon first time round and now I’m onto the aquabike,” she said. “It’s so great that there are so many opportunities to race in the GB Age-Group Team because it means it is open for more people to get involved.
“Whether it’s because of injury or simply where your strengths lie, you can compete in a range of sports and distances. Having raced sprint distances before, I’m going to be taking on the middle distance aquabike.”
Throughout the winter, Anderson was looking forward to making her international return to multisport having spent time training hard, only for Covid-19 to impact her plans in more way than one.
“I raced a national time trial on good Friday back in April as part of the classic series and was delighted to finish top 10,” she said.
“I’d been really focusing on the bike through the winter ready for the aquabike event in Austria, but then a few days after the event, I got really poorly and ended up struggling with shingles, a chest infection and the awful aftermath of long Covid.
“I had 10 weeks of not one single ounce of exercise, so had Austria gone ahead, I wouldn’t have been able to race.”
Having read-up on long Covid and starting to take tentative steps towards exercising at a low level again, Anderson took part in the aquabike at Cholmondeley Castle in June.
“This was not my smartest move,” she added. “Even my approach of ‘just going through the motions’ was too much for my body but I was fortunate enough to finish 2nd. Since then I’ve been ticking over and enjoying much more gentle exercise.
“I think I have a little bit of health anxiety where I’m a bit too scared to push my body in case it sets me back but I hope my mind and body will be recovered enough to race in Austria next year.”
The Great Britain Age-Group Team offers Home Nation Core and Ultimate members the opportunity to represent Britain at Europe Triathlon and World Triathlon Championships across the triathlon and multisport disciplines and distances.
Despite the setbacks of this year, Anderson is still looking forwards and, health permitting, is aiming to compete in 2022 at the rescheduled competition.
“It may not have been the year I hoped for but it has certainly been a year of acceptance and gratitude and I hope 2022 may finally be the year I get to meet and race with teammates”
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