SNITTERFIELD athlete Sara Northover turned on the style to win the gold medal at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Lisbon in the 50-54 age group.
Fifty-one-year-old Northover, a receptionist at Staffpoint Employment Ltd in Stratford, also won the gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in Beijing and in April this year she added the British Championship to her tally of top level gold medals.
Northover has competed in running, cycling and triathlon events all over the world for the past 20 years and holds many other national titles including Half Ironman National Champion.
The sprint triathlon has three disciplines – swimming 750 metres, cycling 20 kilometres and a final five-kilometre track leg – and Northover clinched first place in Lisbon ahead of two other British athletes Claire Bloom and Sharon Hall.
The delighted champion said: “I was first out of the water, my strongest event, but then I lost time in the transition to the bike because I spilled my kit, which you have to place in a box.
“Four or five competitors slipped past me but I made up my position on the 20km ride and ran into the stadium ahead of the field with Claire Bloom for the five kilometre final leg. I managed to get 30 seconds ahead of Claire to finish first.
“I do 11 sessions per week including gym work which entails the three triathlon disciplines – swimming, cycling and running. I get up at 6.15am most mornings to train at Stratford Leisure Centre, then it’s off to work. I go running at lunchtime and in the evenings and weekends I do my cycling sessions.”
Northover is a member of Kidderminster & Stourport Triathlon Club, known as TRiKs, and is trained by Carl Bullingham and sponsored by Clif Bars and Secret Training who provide her racing nutrition.
She plans to compete in the European Aquathlon Championships in June at Chateauroux near Limoges, France, to round off her season.
She married Mark, a cyclist, in 2012 and the following year they set up a training camp at a property they own in the Poitou-Charentes region of France.
Northover added: “Guests have their own training schedules, follow bike routes, use a local running track, take country walks, enjoy warm lake swimming and have access to an Olympic size swimming pool.
“We train guests to the best of their ability whatever their personal goal.”