Tri girl Fiona finds some middle-aged speed

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An amateur triathlete, originally from Peebles, has qualified to wear her country’s colours for a prestigious tournament .

Fiona Russell, who now lives in Glasgow, will represent Team GB in the veterans’ category at the 2013 London ITU Sprint Distance Triathlon World Championships.

A full-time working mum, Fiona has trained hard in her limited spare time, swimming, cycling and running, to pull off this remarkable qualification.

The 45-year-old freelance journalist and blogger told The Southern: “While I have put in a lot of training for this World Championships goal, qualification was unexpected.

“The competition was very high, especially this year because the event is being staged in Britain. I certainly met some of the fittest old birds in the UK at my qualifying events.”

Fiona, who is a former pupil of Peebles High School, was required to achieve a top placing in one of three triathlon sprint qualifiers in June.

At the first, Nottingham Sprint Triathlon, she came 15th in her 45-49 Veterans 2 age group, two minutes outside the slowest qualifier.

Three weeks later, she raced in the Bristol Sprint Triathlon, and took third place in her age group. This was enough to give her a qualifying place, one of only 25 in the UK for the event.

Fiona, a single mum to 14-year-old Havana, told us: “The conditions at Bristol were more in my favour, I think, as it was wet and windy, just like it often is in Scotland.”

Having only raced in half a dozen triathlons before, Fiona still can’t quite believe the magnitude of her achievement.

“It’s slowly sinking in that I will be racing in the champ’s against the top amateur age group triathletes from across the world,” she added.

“I will be so proud to wear the Team GB strip and fly the flag for Scotland.”

Fiona, who is now sponsored by bike brand Planet X, reckons that her achievement shows what ‘middle-aged people’ can do if they set their sights on it.

She said: “I have kept fit over the years and have taken part in a handful of triathlons as well as a few running and cycling events. But this is the first time that I have set a goal of qualifying for a world-level competition.

“I wasn’t sure if I would be good enough and the training has been very tough. I asked a Glasgow Triathlon Club coach, Vicky Begg, to set me a training programme. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to give up, but I kept pushing onwards and have seen some great results.”

Fiona, whose parents live in Eshiels, Peebles, will race on September 13.