Dereham triathlete Grace has come a long way in a year

Dereham triathlete Grace Bird. Picture: James Nice

Dereham triathlete Grace Bird. Picture: James Nice - Credit: Archant

Dereham Runners triathlete Grace Bird has qualified for the Team GB age group squad and is set to compete in the European Sprint Championships in Glasgow next year.

Grace, 23, works as a teaching assistant at the Fred Nicholson School on Westfield Road, having previously studied at UEA.

She only entered her first triathlon a year ago, and despite not undertaking any specific training managed to finish fifth woman overall. This motivated her to train harder, practicing each of the three disciplines several times a week.

Sprint distance triathlons typically involve a swim of 750 metres, followed by a bike ride of 20km, and a run of 5km. Grace's current personal best over the sprint distance is 1:14.49, achieved at Thorpe Park on September 17.

'I finished knowing I had given everything, and came sixth in my age group,' she said. 'Happily this was the qualifying event for the Great Britain age group team (demale 20-24), so I'll be competing in Glasgow next August.'

As a teenager Grace was a leading light in Dereham Otters Swimming Club. Although the bike is now her strongest triathlon stage, she remains fast in the water.

'In fact at the Woodlands Tri on Sunday I ended up swimming two extra lengths in the pool, because the marshal wasn't paying attention. Yet somehow I still managed to get a PB!

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'I've now competed in eight triathlons and am honestly a little bit shocked that I've managed to come so far in a year. All the training has really paid off and I'm determined to do my best and enjoy the European Championships next year.'