A Lower Beeding athlete has become a gold medalist as Great Britain finished third in the Winter Triathlon World Championships.
Team GB entered ten age-group competitors and, despite a field of 115 from 15 countries, they came home with eight medals, finishing a close third to Germany, with hosts Romania leading the way.
Gold medal winner Oliver Gerard-Pearse was delighted after his ‘incredible’ and unexpected personal result on his first attempt.
Cranleigh born Angus Young, 21, competed in the same age group competition, and won the bronze medal.
Despite competing in several ultra-marathons, triathlons and in Iron Man Wales 2017, the pair had never run or cycled in the snow before.
The course, held in Cheile Gradistei, Romania, at the end of January, was a tough and steep 4.5km run, 7.9km cycle and a 6km ski cross country skate.
Gerard-Pearse said: “It felt incredible to win despite it not really sinking in until the prize giving later in the evening. I definitely wasn’t expecting it.
“I qualified for the British team in December so that didn’t leave me with much time to focus my training.
“I was working in Georgia during January, so I had to train twice a day. Fortunately the Georgian diet doesn’t leave you short of carbs, so I was well fuelled.”
Winning a gold medal is the 23-year-old’s ‘biggest achievement to date’ but he believes this is only the start of his career in the sport, which he hopes will soon be an Olympic event.
He added: “I had never heard of a winter triathlon and I definitely never realised how hard it was going to be.
“It really needs to find its way into the Winter Olympics.
“Gold medals are in every athlete’s sights. It’s what drives them on during the worst training sessions and provides that hunger to push further and faster in order to succeed.
“This is my biggest achievement to date, but the only way is up. There’s a long way to go for me and the sport.”