Making his mark at 82


Barry Johnson used the disappointment of a second-place finish in 2021 as fuel to fire himself to victory in the 2022 Europe Triathlon Championships in Munich.

The sprint distance star from Cumbria, who competes in the 80-84 male age category, finished just 34 seconds behind Gherardo Mercati in Valencia in 2021.

However, the remarkable 82-year-old showed the determination of a true champion to make a triumphant comeback a year later, finishing with a time of 01:47:38 in Munich, two minutes and 27 seconds ahead of his Italian rival.

"In 2022, I was determined that I would actually see if I could beat this guy," said Johnson.

"I did, so that was sort of the icing on the cake, beating one of my adversaries. I just simply wanted to beat Mercati.

"It was psychological, I wanted to beat him after he beat me by 30 seconds in Valencia, and I beat him by two and a half minutes.

"Coming into the Olympic Arena was just amazing, there were thousands of spectators, so all in all, it was not just an achievement to win gold but the whole atmosphere of it was brilliant."

Johnson splits his time between several different sports, including mountain running and rock climbing.

He was the first Brit to compete in the world-famous Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in the San Francisco Bay Area and also built one of Cumbria's first indoor climbing walls alongside trailblazing British mountaineer Chris Bonington.

And Johnson believes his versatility has helped make him a more well-rounded athlete.

He said: "I am very lucky, one of my other sports is mountain running, and I tend to go in phases of maybe three to five years where I am concentrating on one sport.

"During that downtime from the triathlon, I won the age group championship for mountain running.

"Cross-training is the key, I think, to all the sports because you are not just putting everything in one basket.

"I can do swimming events, which I do, I swim in age group events and travel the world with that.

"I run and cycle and can then put it together with multi-disciplines. I am lucky enough to be able to compete all the time but I can change which particular sport suits me in the moment.

"I started my career as a swimmer, swimming nationally, and then I took up rock climbing which is why I moved from Lancashire to the Lake District."

Age-Group Championship racing opportunities are available in triathlon (swim, bike, run), duathlon (run, bike, run), aquathlon (swim, run), aquabike (swim, bike), cross duathlon (cross country run, mountain bike, cross country run) and triathlon (swim, mountain bike, cross country run) and winter duathlon (cross country run, ski, cross country run) and triathlon (cross country ski, mountain bike, run).

And Johnson is set for another busy year of competition, with the World Mountain Running Championships, the British Mountain Running Championships and the English Mountain Running Championships all on the agenda in 2023.

However, that won't stop him from defending his title when the 2023 Europe Triathlon Championships take place in Madrid this June.

He will also compete at the 2023 World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Hamburg and Johnson is looking forward to an exciting year across several different sports.

"I have got all those dates in the diary, so I know precisely where I will be at whatever time,” he added. "My wish is for another successful year."

Find out more about representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team and competing in British Age Group Championships on the link below:

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