Ribble Valley triathlete loses five stone and qualifies for European Championships

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In July, Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee will line up in Geneva aiming for his fourth gold medal at the ETU Sprint Distance Triathlon European Championships.

But for Ribble Valley mother of three Natasha Newell, just lining up at the start will be a proud moment.

Natasha Newell in training in the pool

Natasha Newell in training in the pool

While Brownlee goes in the elite event, 43-year-old Natasha, from Wilpshire, will be part of the Great Britain squad after qualifying in the 40-45 age group, after finishing sixth at the Marine Lake Triathlon in Southport last year.

Natasha’s story is an inspirational one, as the former youth swimming champion made a lifestyle decision, lost five stone in weight, and got the triathlon bug.

She had been 14 stone, and explained: “I used to swim at Wigan Wasps, when I got to the nationals in the 200m butterfly, and distance front crawl, up to being 15. I got to a good level, but wanted to go out with my friends and got fed up with it. I had children very young, and hit a standstill.

“I hit a bad time in a relationship and seemed to go downhill from there. It was a vicious circle.

I’ll be really proud to represent my country and give it 100%

Natasha Newell

“I saw myself on holiday in a mirror in my apartment, and I thought someone else was in the apartment. But it was me. I looked at myself and cried. I sobbed and thought, ‘that’s not me’. I got home and decided to change my life.

“I started walking, and I decided to do a bit of running, then swimming when I got confidence to put my costume on. Then I decided to get a bike and I went into my first triathlon at Clitheroe.

“It was just about getting round, and it was really hard.”

Natasha, who also has her own School of Swimming, with venues in Langho and at QEGS in Blackburn, for babies up to adults, went on to win the V40 category and finish in the top three ladies in the Pendle Triathlon.

Natasha puts in the hard miles on the bike

Natasha puts in the hard miles on the bike

And it’s now full steam ahead for Geneva: “It’s five weeks before I go now,

“I have the Abersoch triathlon coming up, and Southport again, which is another qualifier for next year in Portugal.

“But it’s going to be amazing, I’ll be so proud.

“I’m going to do the best I can, I’ve come a long way and I’ve got no idea how I’m going to do.

Natasha before her decision to take up the triathlon

Natasha before her decision to take up the triathlon

“I’ve put the hard work in, but I don’t know where it’s going to take me.

“I’ll be really proud to represent my country and give it 100%.”

Natasha proudly shows off her GB colours

Natasha proudly shows off her GB colours