Clitheroe cyclist delighted with fine finish

Rodger Wilkins on his bike in the ITU World Triathlon age group Grand Final
Rodger Wilkins on his bike in the ITU World Triathlon age group Grand Final

Clitheroe’s Rodger Wilkins finished eight in the 35-39 age group at the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in London at the weekend.

While the Brownlee brothers competed in the elite event, former St Augustine’s, Billington pupil Wilkins, who did 75% of his swim training at Roefield Pool, was also in action.

And he was delighted with his performance: “I was pleased with how things went and the experience was one that I’ll never forget.”

When it was announced where the World Championships would be held this year, Wilkins decided to attempt qualification.

After two full seasons concentrating on coaching, away from competing, he had the goal of racing in the biggest triathlon event ever held in the UK, on a course around the streets of the capital.

He last competed in an international age group race in Budapest in 2010, so had a good idea of what was needed to qualify, but was under no illusion that qualification for London would be straightforward.

After watching the men’s Olympic triathlon in Hyde Park last summer - having started his training four weeks earlier - that cemented my desire to come back this year.

His weakness, like many triathletes, is swimming, but he committed to a minimum of four swim sessions a week.

Rodger integrated cycling and running into or around coaching sessions, with an emphasis on good diet, plenty of sleep and rest and consistent training with very few killer sessions.

After around 10 months training and a couple of running races, he went into multi-discipline racing, but his preparations were far from ideal - the Carlisle Duathlon was cancelled, before he was fourth in the Clitheroe Triathlon and second in the Horwich Triathlon.

He was 11th at the Chester Triathlon, but a puncture meant he didn’t finish the Liverpool Triathlon, before he was third in the Salford Triathlon.

He hadn’t completed as many races as he would have liked, and two weeks from London damaged the meniscus in his knee having been knocked off his bike.

But he made it to the starting line, and in the 750m swim, cut from 1,500m, went for safety over speed, making up a number of places towards the back end of the swim.

On the bike, for 40km, he attacked the bends and focused on smooth power.

Cramp to his calf cost him after a good start, but he dismounted and went through the transition to the run smoothly, where, despite his knee problem, gave it everything and, in his wave, came in as the first GB athlete, second overall, and took eighth in the championships.