TWO young Moray triathletes overcame injury barriers to do Scotland proud at a major British event.
Elgin Academy pupils Cameron Main and Sophia Green, both 16, are rising up the British ranks in the sport of triathlon, which combines running, cycling and swimming.
The super-fit duo were chosen to represent their country at the British Triathlon Gateway Event in Llanelli, Wales on Saturday and both produced superb performances in spite of injury restrictions.
Fifth year pupil Cameron was competing at junior level (aged 16 to 19) for the first time at the championships.
Despite missing out on a whole winter of running due to a knee injury, and being one of the youngest in his new age category, he was first Scot home and second first-time junior to complete the event as he finished 16th in a field of around 60 triathletes, many aged 18 or 19.
He accomplished a 750-metre swim, 20-km bike ride and 5km run in style. He saved his strongest for last, completing the run in sixth place overall.
“It was a really good field and considering it was my first time at this level, I was happy with my performance,” he said. “To be only training full-time for the past six weeks and to go and have the sixth fastest run after being injured for so long, it boosts your confidence.
“It was definitely the best level I have competed at.”
Meanwhile fourth year Sophia overcame a lower back problem which stunted her running ability by finishing fourth in the girls’ youth section for 16 and under.
That means she is now ranked 4th in the whole of the UK for her age category.
“I had a really good swim and cycle but I haven’t run in nine weeks because of my back so I struggled a bit,” she said. “I reckon I could have done even better without the injury. It’s almost there now and I can start running properly again soon.”
A former Scottish swimming champ, she turned to triathlon in recent years to test her abilities in the other two pursuits.
The Scotland internationals regularly train together, and preparations for the Welsh event included an open water swimming stint in the chilly waters of Loch Morlich.
Both Moray teenagers competed in the British Tri Series last year, with Cameron finishing second in one race to his main English rival, Travis Bramley, who also narrowly beat him in the gateway event in Wales.
Cameron’s goal is now to be selected for the GB team competing in the ETU Triathlon Youth European Championships Festival in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary in July.
Although he has stepped up from youth to junior level in Britain, he is still classed as a youth at European level and is eligible to qualify for the Hungarian festival.
Four GB triathletes from each age category are chosen, and if he can finish in the top four at a qualifying event at Hetton Lyons in north-east England on June 19 he can make the squad.
He is supported by the Sportscotland national body and SportsAid Scotland, a charity that provides grants to talented sporting youngsters aged 12 to 22.
Cameron’s immediate goal in GB selection but his future ambition is to be a professional triathlete.
He is revising for his exams at Elgin Academy and plans to go to university and study for Sports and Exercise qualification, as well as carrying on training with the Scottish Triathlon Development Squad.
Cameron also writes his own sporting blog (https:/cameronmaintriathlon.wordpress.com/) and described Saturday’s performance in Wales in his latest edition.
“I had a brilliant start to the swim allowing me to come out the water in the top 15,” he said. “I had a quick transition and got into the second bike pack, but soon got dropped because I wasn’t strong enough to stay in the group.
“My second transition was good and I went out onto the run feeling strong. I suffered with a bit of cramp in my hamstrings for the first part of the run but eventually got into a rhythm and had one of the fastest run times.”
Sophia followed up a strong performance in a British duathlon (running and cycling) championships in Windsor, where she finished ninth, with her superb showing in Llanelli.
Around three years ago she won the 200 metres breaststroke at the Scottish age group swimming championships, and has also competed in British swimming events.
Nowadays she only swims as part of her triathlon training, and is more likely to compete in local running or cycling competitions to boost her performance in both sports.
“My cycling in particular has got a lot better lately so that’s how I’m managing to keep up more in triathlon competitions.”
Sophia is part of the Scotland Foundation Squad, one level down from the Development team Cameron trains with because he is almost a year older.
She plans to take part in more British Super series competitions, helped by her funding from SportsAid Scotland, and will be involved in a training camp in Spain during the summer.