There are not many mothers and daughters who can say they’ve represented their country together, and even fewer have the memories of sharing international podiums at events. But Joanne and Lucy Bednall have the experiences and the medals to show for their shared passion for swim, bike, run and their experiences of representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team together.
Mum Joanne, who competes in the 55-59 age group, and her 17-year-old daughter Lucy have both had medal success with the GB Age-Group Team. Joanne claimed bronze at the 2020 European Duathlon Championships in Spain, with Lucy winning gold at the same championships on her international debut, before then adding world gold to her European title last November.
“We’ve had the most amazing times together,” Joanne said. “Being able to share these experiences alongside Lucy is fantastic but we never really think about it as we’re a mum and daughter competing, we just do it because it’s what we both really enjoy doing and we’ve always done it.
“But I love it when we’ve both got our GB kit on and we’re standing there, it’s such a proud moment. I am so proud of Lucy and everything she has achieved. I’m probably the proudest person ever, I’m a very proud mum.”
“I just love it,” Lucy added. “Knowing that my mum is there and to experience all these places we’re able to visit together, the atmosphere, racing with someone else and being able to live those moments together is really special.
“We’ll pass each other on the course. At the Europeans in 2020, I started just before mum so when I was on my first run I was running back when mum’s wave was setting off so we crossed, and then the same again on the bike. When I finished I ran along the finish bit to see mum come in and it’s such a nice feeling being able to share these moments and have those memories.”
Joanne first got involved in triathlon in her early 20s along with her husband. Their passion for swim, bike, run developed from there and, after a break from the sport, Lucy’s involvement reignited Joanne’s passion for multisport.
“It was really when triathlon was just getting going,” Joanne reflected. “We had a group of friends from Sheffield Triathlon Club and we all just became really good mates and set-up training evenings it was just really good fun. We just used to go out and race and never really aspired to anything other than just enjoying ourselves.
“My husband qualified for the worlds first and then I thought I wanted a bit of that, so I trained hard the following year and also qualified for the worlds and ended up racing in Italy and Mexico. We did a few Europeans and then we had a big gap, as we moved up here and Lucy was born, so we didn’t do triathlon for years. I carried on fell running but we didn’t do any triathlon until Lucy started swimming quite a bit.”
Lucy took part in her first triathlon at age seven, also progressing through the TriStar Series, before stopping swimming to focus on running, with Lucy also representing England in fell running. Having ignited her mum’s passion for multisport again, and having continued cycling alongside her running, Lucy and Joanne decided to target a place on the Great Britain Age-Group Team in duathlon.
“I’ve done sport for as long as I can remember,” Lucy commented. “We hadn’t really thought much about it and then when we saw the opportunity for trying to qualify for the Age-Group Team, racing abroad and getting my first big races in it just seemed like the perfect opportunity.”
“I think it was the fact that Lucy was getting back into it,” Joanne replied when asked on her return to multisport. “I hadn’t given up my running, so it wasn’t too much to get back into it. It was seeing Lucy doing all the races again, it kind of sets the flame off and then we just decided it would be great to see if we could both qualify for the duathlon.
“Lucy hadn’t experienced the GB Age-Group Team and it’s always such a great time out there with the team so we thought we would have a go at trying to qualify and see where it gets us.”
The destination was Spain after the pair qualified for the 2020 European Duathlon Championships in Punta Umbria. Held just before the initial Covid-19 lockdown, Lucy and Joanne returned with European gold and bronze in their respective age groups, a feat they never expected.
“It was a really good experience,” Lucy said. “Travelling on the plane, being part of the team, seeing everyone else with kit on, people asking us where we were going, it was all such a good experience.
“I think I was more shocked because I was the sixth woman overall. I didn’t think against everyone I would be that high up, but it just set my targets higher.”
“I expected Lucy to do it because she is so quick but it was fantastic to see her win gold,” Joanne added. “But I never, ever expected to get a medal at age group ever. Having done it for all these years and having seen so many amazing people, I had always aspired to be these amazing athletes. I was really shocked.”
During the lockdowns, Joanne and Lucy would go out training together, finding new routes near to their Buxton home, and, where as once it was Lucy trying to keep up with her mum, it’s now the other way around.
Having always been close, sharing a passion for swim, bike, run has made their bond even stronger, and being around Lucy’s drive and determination is huge motivation for Joanne.
“We have always been very, very close,” Joanne said. “As Lucy has got older, we can do more together, although I now can’t keep with her. It’s just made us even closer because we do pretty much everything together, I’m going to miss her when she goes off to uni.
“Last night Lucy came in and she went ‘right mum get your kit on we’re going for a run’ and I was like ‘no, it’s seven o’clock and I kind of don’t feel like it’ and Lucy goes ‘upstairs, we’re going now’. Without Lucy’s drive, I would have probably just bumbled along but to see her drive and how strong she is it really does make you put your kit on and get out of bed in the morning.”
“It’s been such an amazing experience so far,” Lucy added. “We were grateful to have got that final race in before everything closed before the first lockdown and then the World Championships last November was another incredible experience.
“We have a training partner in each other and being part of the Age-Group Team has meant going to the races we’re there to support each other and we get to travel which is like a holiday but with a lot more of a focus and a race involved.”