Winning just one British title is a moment to remember, so for Donald Brooks to win all five in one year is an impressive feat as he became British champion in every distance and multisport possible in his age group in 2022.
The year started with the British duathlon title at Oulton Park in March before the 45-49 age group athlete won gold in both standard and sprint distance triathlon in Leeds and Cardiff, respectively. The aquathlon title followed in July before the full set was completed at the British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships last weekend.
It’s a target Brooks set himself at the end of last year and, after an injury-disrupted winter and a busy calendar of events, he was pleased to have finally completed the full set with his age group victory at Outlaw X.
“It’s been on my radar for a couple of years now but where the events have been or the dates there has been a reason why I couldn’t get to one or two of the events,” Brooks said. “When the calendar was announced last year, all the dates and events fit so I thought this was the year I would target all five British Championships.
“It was then a case of fitting them into my race schedule and making sure I stayed fit for all of them because it’s a long season and you need a lot of things to fall into place to enable you to compete well at each one. No mechanicals, no illnesses or Covid, as well as being fit and ready to race. There’s a bit of luck that comes with it along with the training because some things can be taken out of your control.
“Completing the set was my main goal for the year, so I was really happy to have been able to complete it. To be able to put together a string of performances across the different distances with the different disciplines over a whole season shows strong consistency, and as an athlete that’s all you can ask for.”
Not only has Brooks been ever-present on the top step of the British Championships podium in 2022, but he’s also won two European golds whilst representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team this year, including finishing as the fastest age grouper overall in standard distance triathlon.
The athlete from Teignmouth in South Devon has also won at a number of domestic races including overall race wins at IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth and Long Course Weekend Wales.
“I would say 2022 has been my best year,” Brooks reflected. “I remember 2018 was a really good year and a lot of people close to me said ‘that’s going to take some beating to beat 2018’, and I was like ‘yes, it will’ because I was fastest age grouper at the standard and the sprint championships in Glasgow and Estonia and I had a couple of other wins as well.
“But I think 2022 has topped that and been my strongest season because I’ve managed to perform consistently right across the season. I’ve had the success in the age group, and I’ve also had the races where I’ve been able to mix it with the elite boys and race at the front end of the race with them.”
The year of racing is not over yet for Brooks who will represent the GB Age-Group Team at the World Standard Distance Triathlon Championships in Abu Dhabi at the end of November, along with super sprint triathlon for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to going out to Abu Dhabi, it will be a nice end of season finish, but I must admit it feels like a bit of a drag to keep my race fitness going until the end of November,” Brook said.
“I’m also doing the super sprint whilst I’m out there which I’ve never tried before and that’s a new distance for me so that will be interesting to see how I do. I don’t really practice the sprint stuff so it’s going to be a new experience.
“I love racing and I love the mentality of it, it’s the reward for all the training you do. There’s a couple of local races with Sportiva Events over the next month which I will probably do with my boys.”
Brooks comes from a background in competitive swimming and represented Great Britain internationally in Octopush (underwater hockey). After entering a local triathlon with only a few days’ notice in 2014 he’s become hooked, immersing himself into the world of swim, bike, run.
With the 2023 British Championships calendar already announced, what has Brooks got planned for 2024?
“My race calendar is still undecided, but I’ve accepted my place at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Finland so I would like to go out and target that and see how well I can do there,” Brooks said.
“After the success I had at Long Course Weekend, I’ve got an itch to maybe do a full distance, so Kona [IRONMAN World Championships] could be on the cards one day but we’ll see. I’m just going to keep on training hard and enjoying the experiences.”