Michelle Dillon talks Age-Group racing

Published:

Competing in the Female 50-54 age group at the 2023 World Triathlon Sprint Championships Hamburg, the two-time Olympian had been battling injuries directly linked with menopause. 

What initially seemed like a standard hamstring issue – the kind most athletes have to deal with at some point in their careers – turned out to be something very different Dillon explained:  

"I had a cyst appear on my ovary. I had pulled my hamstring muscle and went to get a scan and the doctor said in the scan ‘this has just shown a little bit further up and one of your ovaries are really enlarged and had this cyst on it’, and to get it checked ASAP. 

"All of a sudden I had forgotten about the hamstring tear. I went to get a scan, thankfully it had already come down a little bit, but I needed to get another check.  

"I went to Spain with my husband [Stuart Hayes] to start training for the World Champs as if I was going to do it, but at this point I still couldn’t run. 

"What I realised was that I had a femoral nerve problem which was causing irritation, so I couldn't stretch my leg out. And I had a torn hamstring as well. 

"When I look back now, the ovary was obviously pressing onto the nerve, and this is about three weeks before the race. Two weeks before the race the ovary burst. 

"I was in bed one night and there was this feeling of hot treacle down my leg, it was weird, then I went back and had another scan when I got home and they said, ‘that has burst’. All of a sudden I could run." 

The Great Britain Age-Group Team consists of close to 3,500 British Triathlon Core and Ultimate members each year, all of whom have qualified to represent the team.  

Prior to representing the Age-Group Team, with whom she has claimed three Sprint World Championship golds, Dillon had represented Great Britain at the elite level, including placing sixth at the Athens Olympic Games. 

There was added reason for an outpouring of emotion after crossing the finish line in Hamburg, 30 seconds clear of her closest challenger. 

Along with her injury issues Dillon's father was undergoing heart bypass surgery in Australia. 

She added: "I knew it could be the last time he knew I was going to race and I said to him when he was in hospital ‘do you want me to race?’. 

"He just said ‘do it, it doesn’t matter where you come, just do it’. I was going to do it for him. 

"I just had a lot of drive to finish for him. When I came across the line and someone told me I was the winner, I was so happy and relieved.”  

Dillon is hoping to compete more this season before attempting to defend her world title this October in Malaga, Spain. 

She said: "I am hoping to do more than one race this year. I have still got to be careful, I get that, I am doing my strength and conditioning religiously now. I want to arrive in the season in May in good shape, enough to string some good races between May and July. 

"I feel like I have been injured so much, I still have a lot to give. I just want to string together some decent races where everything falls into place. That is what my challenge is this year. It is my challenge every year." 

British Triathlon Core and Ultimate Home Nation members who are a British citizen are eligible to qualify and race for the Great Britain Age-Group Team. Each year there are a series of qualification races and opportunities to represent the team in a variety of disciplines and distances that are only open to members.  

 Find out more about the Great Britain Age-Group Team and British Triathlon Home Nation Members by clicking on the buttons below. 

British Age-Group Team 

Become a British Triathlon member

Photo credit: Darren Wheeler @thatcameraman   

Thanks to our Partners

Join Us

Enjoy insurance benefits, race licensing and more...