Mark's off to Australia for World Triathlon challenge
By Lyndsay Oxley - Reporter
A TRIATHLETE from Barnard Castle is preparing to represent his country after qualifying for a place in a world final.
Mark Elliott will be among 5,000 of the world’s best elite and age group triathletes when he heads to Australia’s Gold Coast next month for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.
The 61-year-old gained a place in the competition after taking third place in the qualifier at Southport on May 20.
He completed a 1,500 swim, 40km bike ride and a 10k run in two hours and 31 minutes, just over his personal best of two hours and 11 minutes.
Mr Elliott says he feels honoured to be representing Great Britain at the event on September 16.
He said: “It feels amazing. I was chuffed to bits when I found out I had qualified.
“I was 95 per cent sure that I would qualify because I did quite a good time but I didn’t find out officially until about a week after.
“It is a huge honour to represent your country. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it is something which I never thought I would do.”
Mr Elliott, who will be travelling to Australia with his wife Kathleen, has been competing in triathlon events for the past 20 years. He is also a swimming coach and has been training Teesdale Amateur Swimming Club for the past ten years.
Back in 2013, Mr Elliott reached the European finals after qualifying in Turkey. He came fifth but was placed first out of those representing Great Britain.
He has also appeared twice on the TV gameshow Total Wipeout and competed in the Ironman triathlon four times.
The keen open water swimmer currently trains six days a week.
His training is also aided by a sports massage twice a week from Startforth masseur Tommy Norton.
Mr Elliott said: “I only got into triathlons because I was a runner. I got injured and so I started to swim. Someone said to me if you can swim and run, why don’t you do triathlons? That is where it all started.
“I used to do them every week and I would do a 10k run in the middle of the week. I still do two or three a year.”
Having been training hard in preparation for the upcoming event, Mr Elliott says he is hoping to bring home a medal.
He added: “I would really like a medal. I am hoping to improve my qualifying time because I have done better times in the past.
“I’m feeling really confident about it and I am really looking forward to it.”