Andrea Nightingale only took up triathlon in her mid-fifties, but that has not stopped her storming to success on the world stage.
The 61-year-old from Guernsey had an unforgettable 2022 which saw her claim gold at two World Championships, the Age-Group Aquabike Championships in Abu Dhabi and Long Distance Aquabike Championships in Samorin, as well as at the European Aquabike Championships in Bilbao.
Nightingale competes in the 60-64 age category and pinpointed her hard work during lockdown as the key to her reaping the rewards when competition returned.
“It was a fantastic year from start to finish and I had some amazing results,” she said.
“Obviously, because of Covid, we weren’t able to have Championship races in the two years before and coming from Guernsey makes it doubly difficult to be able to compete at that sort of level.
“I trained really hard during the Covid years, so it was all guns blazing going into 2022.
“I wanted to make the most of it so I put myself into a position where I could do as many races around the world as possible.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, Nightingale wants to build on her success and continue making her mark in global competitions.
“For 2023, I’ve already registered for all the same races albeit in different places this year,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to going to Ibiza in May for the Long Distance Aquabike World Championships and then hopefully moving on to Belgium.
“I really want to retain my titles, but it is difficult to compare times as each race is different. You have different terrain and different conditions, but I would like to think that I can keep my speed up and see if I can get even faster with my swimming.”
Nightingale was a keen netball and squash player before taking up triathlon and later made the switch to aquabike in 2018 after knee injury troubles.
“My last race running triathlon was in Australia and I had the most amazing time,” said Nightingale.
“However, I came out of the water first in my age group and off the bike first in my age group and that was when all these runners started passing me. It was gutting to say the least.
“That was when I was introduced to aquabike, and I have been going ever since.”
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).
Nightingale started triathlon as a new challenge once her two children had grown up, competing in her first race in Windsor and finding herself brought to tears at the finish line as the emotion of completing a race hit home.
“I had never been so nervous in my whole life but then I found out I had finished second,” said Nightingale.
“That was when I thought ‘I really like this’. I really like the challenge, I like being pushed to my limits and obviously, by coming second, I felt pretty good about myself. I was then inspired to Google how I could take my triathlon further.”
And having created memories to savour through her own adventures, Nightingale now wants to spread the word as a way to inspire others, young and old, to pursue their dreams.
“I never thought that at this age I would be travelling the world,” she said. “I’ve been to some amazing places in the last six or seven years and met wonderful people.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I can represent Guernsey but also to be able to put a GB kit on is really special.
“That’s why the age groups are such an amazing set up. Any age group is able to compete in countries around the world at a high level.
“It goes to show that if you set yourself a target and commit yourself to that, whatever it may be, then you can reap the benefits.
“I’m probably healthier and fitter than I ever have been at the ripe old age of 61 and I am very fortunate that my body is letting me do what I want to do.”
Find out more about representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team and competing in British Age Group Championships on the link below: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/championships-and-qualifiers.