Duathlon athlete Debbie Bradley has overcome defeat to be crowned world champion.
The Solihull mum-of-one, who only competed in her first ever duathlon last October, took gold in the 40-44 age range of the championship race, held in Pontevedra, Spain.
“It was a close finish but I did it,” said the delighted 40-year-old.
“Words can’t quite describe the feeling of stepping on to that podium to be crowned world champion. It was everything I hoped it would be and so much more.”
Debbie is now automatically qualified for the World Championships in Adelaide, taking place in October 2015.
The keen runner and cyclist had aced her first-ever race, a qualifier, for the European Duathlon (run/bike/run) Championships in the Netherlands. But she thought her dreams of gold were over when, just 1m 34s into the European race, her bike crashed into the barrier and Debbie had to be taken to hospital.
“It was my first experience of representing Great Britain,” said Debbie, a learning and development manager for Cancer Research UK. “I knew I was in great shape and led from the first run before disaster struck. My journey was over in a split second. It knocked my confidence to the core and there was a real sense of letting people down.”
Despite her disappointment, and some minor injuries, the Solihull athlete decided to enter the 2014 Pontevedra ITU Duathlon World Championships to gain more racing experience.
But she was in for a surprise as not only did Debbie finish the race, she took first place to be crowned world champion.
“This time I never allowed myself to think about anything other than getting round in one piece,” she explained.
“On the day the atmosphere was electric but I felt really detached from it all. I didn’t allow myself to feel much.
“I started the race conservatively but gradually as my confidence grew, I started to enjoy it. On the second half of the bike course I became aware of who was around me and who I had to beat and, more importantly, confident I could.”