From school PE lessons to joining a gym with a running group, Rosemary Baker has always found a way to stay active. This gradually led to a her trying out multisport for the first time before setting a goal of pulling on the trisuit of the Great Britain Age-Group Team.
Baker was always considered sporty, beginning with her school years and continuing into adulthood, saying: “My favourite lessons at school consisted of as many PE activities as I could cram into the week, enjoying and competing at cross country for both school and county, playing netball and badminton.
“After school and starting work, I continued for many years playing badminton in the local league, other sports fell by the wayside.”
Despite a busy life, Baker always made time for sport, however it was injury that caused interruption she explained: “Marriage and the arrival of my daughter followed soon after by divorce. I managed to continue playing badminton with the support and encouragement of what proved to be my second husband.
“He had to carry me into A&E when eventually my back complained at the treatment it was getting at the back of the court. It was clear badminton was probably to be relegated to leisure only.”
This led to Baker taking up cycling to maintain fitness, riding 25 miles at a time whilst her daughter was in nursery school. After moving to a new home and joining a gym with a running group, Baker then took up triathlon’s third discipline before dipping her toe in a full swim, bike, run event.
“The running group organised a small trial triathlon, pool swim, static gym bikes and a run outside, again I had to be persuaded to enter,” said Baker. “I was hooked, aided by being one of the placed entrants.
“That was 2007 and it took me until 2014 to feel confident enough to compete in a competitive event. The Brownlee Triathlon at Harewood House, this was followed by regular events and getting better times and results in mainly Olympic and sprint distance events. I had always dreamed of wearing a GB kit at some sort of discipline, this seemed the opportunity to achieve that.”
Baker set her sights on the middle distance event and tried to qualify at the Outlaw Half Nottingham in 2016, only to miss out on achieving the target time necessary for qualification. However, she quickly dusted herself off, traveling to Lezyne Worthing to take on the Olympic distance and dispute a tough sea swim, succeeding in qualifying for Kitzbühel, 2017.
“Regrettably, a heavy fall from the bike ended my race in Kitzbühel,” Baker recalled. “I have no recollection of what or how it happened, just know that a very kind and skilled Austrian, Dr. Katharina Przybilla, was the one who stopped and without overstating it, saved my life ready to be airlifted to hospital.
“I was not done with my GB aspirations and pressed on trying to qualify for other events. I qualified for the Multisport Ibiza 2018. Outlaw Half Nottingham 2019 resulted in a second place and qualifying for Walchsee middle distance 2020, as we know this was not to happen for the GB team.”
Following the suspension of activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Baker’s next chance to compete was at the National Duathlon Championships at Croft Circuit this year, saying: “I decided to try something new, especially as swimming is probably my weakest discipline. The day dawned to good weather. I was very happy to be about to get back racing, though the run route was fairly torturous. I loved it and had a good event, finishing second in my age group and qualifying for Bilbao.
“To anyone who is reasonably capable at the three or two disciplines, there are all abilities at events and a lot of people to encourage you. Join a local triathlon club and get involved at a local event, you do not need the best kit, ride what you have. One word of caution, try open water swimming before you compete in an event with open water swimming, it’s not the same as the pool swim you are used to.”
The Great Britain Age-Group Team offers all Home Nation members a unique opportunity to compete at World and European Championships across a variety of multisport disciplines. To find out more about how you can represent Great Britain in the Age-Group Team, click the button below.