Sleaford triathletes Keely and Alice claim European medals

Keely McNiffe with the European gold medal proudly hanging around her neck EMN-191107-123610002
Keely McNiffe with the European gold medal proudly hanging around her neck EMN-191107-123610002

Sleaford triathlete Keely McNiffe Club celebrated after winning a brilliant gold medal at the European Championships

Competing in Targu-Mures, Romania, Keely won the 20 to 24 year category over the middle triathlon distance (70:3) triathlon to become European champion.

Keely with British team-mates Beth Wilmott (who also won gold), and silver-medallist Katie Ball EMN-191107-123600002

Keely with British team-mates Beth Wilmott (who also won gold), and silver-medallist Katie Ball EMN-191107-123600002

The Tri3 Sleaford Triathlon Club member faced a non-wetsuit 1.2-mile open water swim, a 56-mile bike route, and a 13.1-mile run around the town.

Keely had qualified to represent Great Britain by winning the Holkham Half last year and opened her championship bid with a personal best swim.

She completed the technical cycle leg in 2hr 33min 05secs and then defied temperatures hitting 30 degrees to complete the final leg in 2.33.03 for a total time of 5hr 16min 13secs to win by almost four minutes.

A club spokesman said: “We are incredibly proud of Keely’s achievements to date and know she will go on to greater success in the future.”

Alice sprints to an age group medal in Romania EMN-190715-111524002

Alice sprints to an age group medal in Romania EMN-190715-111524002

Ruskington’s Alice Davies also climbed the same age group podium as Keely in Romania.

Alice, a staff nurse at Lincoln County Hospital, battled to third place in the blistering heat of Transylvania.

She had qualified for the Transylvanian challenge after finishing fourth in the Outlaw Half Triathlon, in Nottingham, last year, allowing her to join the British Triathlon Federation.

Alice completed the swim in 43min 55secs, before clocking 2.58.25 for the bike and then 1.53.23 for the run.

European bronze medallist Alice Davies took up the triathlon just six years ago EMN-190715-111534002

European bronze medallist Alice Davies took up the triathlon just six years ago EMN-190715-111534002

“The Romanian race was the hardest I’ve ever done due to the heat, but the atmosphere was amazing and kept me going,” she said.

“There were hundreds of competitors all cheering each other on and the entire town came out to support the race, even staying to watch the very last athlete over the finish line.”

Alice’s triathlon obsession stems back to 2013 after she spent a week volunteering at a gala event in London.

“I supported elite and para-triathletes who were competing for the title of world champion,” she added.

“At that point it was my dad and little brother who did all the racing and I never once thought that one day it could be me up there.

“I joined the Lincoln Tri Club that year, but only as a way to build my fitness and was a bit too scared to take on a race of my own.”

Fast forward to 2018 and Alice had seriously caught the bug.

She started signing up to smaller races in and around Lincoln before joining a training team for the Nottingham meet.

“My friends on the ward think I’m bonkers, but have been very supportive and the triathlons have allowed me to make many new friends”, she said.

* Several Sleaford Triathlon Club members were also in action over the same weekend at the 2019 OSB Holkham Half, another middle-distance event.

Stuart Gutteridge, Louise Short, Jenny Smith-Wood, Marie Thorpe, Charles Roberts and Phil Roberts swam, biked and ran their way around 70.3 miles in the grounds of Holkham Hall in Norfolk.

Chris Wood, David Foster and Paul Thorpe, meanwhile, completed the Holkham 10K.

Other club members took part in events far and wide, including the Epic Swim in Derwent Water and the Cotswold Way 100km challenge.

For more information about the club, visit www.tri3sleaford.co.uk or find them on Facebook at Tri3 Sleaford Triathlon Club.