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AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds

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Sarah Taylor – Helping us to Celebrate Women’s Sport Week

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Sarah Taylor has been volunteering in triathlon for 14 years. She has invested her own funds into travelling all over the world to help officiate and support triathlons at every level, including as an official for Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Paralympics. Without officials, none of these events would be able to happen.

Sarah’s hard work, and financial and time commitment to work her way up the technical official pathway was all made to feel worthwhile 18 months ago.  Sarah, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, was handed her triathlon dream job – Technical Delegate for the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Rotterdam in September.  Sarah is the first British woman to be given this prestigious role.

Sarah shares her triathlon story, as part of our women’s sport week celebrations. We hope her story, along with other women we’ll be featuring this week, inspires more women and girls to get involved in sport - whether it is taking part or volunteering.

“The Grand Final is the culmination of the World Triathlon Series and is where the World Champion is crowned. The Technical Delegate basically runs the Grand Final working with the International Triathlon Union (ITU). The buck stops with me. I work with the event organiser and a huge team of volunteers and other employed ITU staff to make sure everything is planned and delivered as it should be.  

“We have a manual of how an elite race should run, so when elite athletes arrive at a venue, they know that briefings are at a certain time, there will be an athlete’s lounge and the same facilities and services are available to them at every single event. It is my job to work with the events team to interpret that manual at the Rotterdam venue and ensure the uniformity.

“When I was asked to take on the role, I was shocked and totally flattered to be given the responsibility. I kept asking ‘Are you sure? Me? Are you sure you want me? I couldn’t believe it!

“I am absolutely delighted as it is a huge honour to be the first British woman to hold the position. Though I have worked damn hard over a period of time to get to this level. The ITU are very good at supporting women into senior positions, but we are very much chosen on merit and we work hard to get there.  

“The role is virtually voluntary. I receive some basic expenses over the 18-month period to support the event, but we are not in it for the money. This is what I have been working towards and the opportunity will probably never come around again. 

“This is a great way to give something back to the sport and I would urge any women out there who are interested in volunteering or would like to give something back to the sport that they have been competing in to consider taking a Local Technical Official and Regional Technical Official courses. That’s where I started.    

“This has been an exciting time and the excitement mounts as the race gets closer, but it is also a huge pressure and responsibility to make sure the event is fair, safe and runs like clockwork. The Grand Final is televised around the world and even the smallest of things can be highlighted in the click of a button with social media these days, so the pressure to ensure everything is absolutely spot on is more intense than ever.

“I will be doing everything I can to make sure this is the best Grand Final yet. I want to do a great job for the UK, for the athletes, for the team and for myself.”

Inspired by Sarah’s story and would you like get involved in volunteering or as a technical official? Visit www.britishtriathlon.org/get-involved/volunteers-and-officials to find out more.

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