How retirement led to representing the GB Age-Group Team around the world

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Sandra and David Abrams have competed all around the world, representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team in 12 different countries across four continents. This week their latest destination will be Abu Dhabi where they will race at the World Triathlon Age-Group Championships.

They first got involved in triathlon after they both retired from work when the married couple, who are now age 76, wanted to find something else to do alongside their passion for windsurfing.

“I had prostate cancer the year we retired, and Sandra had breast cancer only a couple of years before that, but for us it was the start,” David said.

“We were keen windsurfers, but we were also running and cycling, and we would also go for a swim. We found that windsurfing didn’t have the same magic as the running and the swimming had, so we started to want to give triathlon a try, so we did.”

That would be the start of their passion for triathlon which has taken them all around the world, and for Sandra onto multiple World and European Championship podiums including three European golds and the honour of becoming world champion in her age group in 2016.

“What we really like and what we find really interesting is being able to see and experience all the different countries we get to race in and the way the different countries approach the organisation of the events,” Sandra said.

“We have so many memories together, but Mexico in 2016 was very special. I remember we were sitting in a beach café having post-race coffee and because of the problems with the currents on the swim no one knew where anyone had finished. We were sat there having coffee and our friend Rachel Bown looked at her phone and said, ‘we’ve got two world champions sitting here’. I was one of them and the other was an Australian athlete who was sitting with us.

“That was honestly one of those ‘wow’ moments because I didn’t expect it. We had ordered these coffees and then suddenly it was like ‘get the margaritas in’. It was a very, very special time.”

The couple, who live in Hill Head near Fareham, celebrated their golden wedding year in 2018 by travelling to race on the Gold Coast at the World Championships.

“That was another really special memory for us,” David said. “I had my hair dyed in the Union flag colours, and we had both our sons, our daughter-in-law, our grandsons and our Kiwi co-in-laws cheering us on, so we have lots of good memories from that event.

“Both our sons are flying out to watch us race in Abu Dhabi so that’s going to be really good to have them there. One lives in London and one lives in Sydney, so it will actually be the first time we’ve seen our son from Australia since we visited them after racing on the Gold Coast.”

Abu Dhabi is a new location for Sandra and David who will both race in the 75-79 age group when they represent the GB Age-Group Team at the World Age-Group Championships over the standard distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).

“It’s nice because we’ve got a group of us going out there,” Sandra said. “This one in particular was really exciting when we were qualifying for Abu Dhabi because after Covid it was our first qualifiers back. We formed a little support group, so the event has been something we’ve been talking about and looking forward to for a while now.

“David is very good at staying on top of everything and getting us all organised. We’ve already got a timetable written out and a map with the key locations on for where we’re going to need to be like the team hotel, registration, swim start and things like that.

“I haven’t had a good training year so I’m not hoping for anything medal wise, although you never know at these races.”

“We haven’t booked any holidays since we started competing internationally, we have just waited to see where we are going for the race and that’s been our holiday,” David added. “It’s always enjoyable going out to represent the Age-Group Team.

“It’s nice to still be able to achieve something physically. The fact we are in our mid-70s now and we’re still doing something like this is very satisfying. We’ve also made a lot of good friends through triathlon and being part of the Age-Group Team.

“We’ve seen quite a few places in the world, and I think that has been really interesting. This sport really has taken us around the world and we’re looking forward to our next destination.”

Are you interested in representing the GB Age-Group Team or trying to become a British champion? The 2023 calendar of Age-Group Championships and Qualifiers has already been announced, and you can find out more about the Great Britain Age-Group Team and how to qualify, as well as the various swim, bike, run disciplines here.

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