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By Niamh Lewis
When triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay failed to produce the Olympic swimming squad aged 17, she gave up the sport and took a job at a zoo.
Today, the 26-year-old from Essex is the greatest hope of getting the next Ironman world champion of Britain.
To take that jump in the pool into Ironmans 140.6 miles of biking, swimming and running could leave some people scratching their heads.
However, as veteran triathletes understand, the game has a habit of hooking people in – mediated by the growth of the Ironman brand all from one moment in Hawaii, to 230 global occasions through the 1970s.
On that day – 18 February 1978 – just 15 people took to the jellyfish-infested sea from basic swimwear to swim 2.4 miles, followed by a 112-mile bike ride along with a 26.2-mile jog in Hawaiis sweltering temperatures. It had been meant as a competition between friends to choose which athletes had been the fittest: alcoholics, runners or bikers.
Now at the Ironman World Championships of this weekend, over 2,000 competitors will take part.
Among them, Charles-Barclay, the rejected swimmer and one-time zoo staff.
After missing choice to the London 2012 games that I had to make a determination on whether I could continue doing the following four years at the sport to try and get to another Olympics, she told BBC Sport.
I gave it a great go, I received my greatest ever times in the pool along with superior effects in open water, however I lost the love of the sport. So I gave up it together.
While working in the marketing department for Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire that the triathlon bug started to bite, it was.
I knew I missed the love of hurrying so I wanted something fresh to do. It spiralled out of control by being a fun hobby to actually believingIm fairly good at this.
It is not without its challenges, however.
When you race that long youre going to have dark points, and points when your mind wanders a bit, Charles-Barclay explained.
Ordinarily I get very hungry towards the conclusion of the run. I only dream about the meals Im likely to eat after. It a pizza.
But after the race Ill dictate all that food and then I feel ill so I can not eat it anyway. Reece normally ends it up .
Reece is Reece Barclay – her husband, coach, training partner, and professional athlete in his own right. The group were itching to get a new challenge. Togetherthey signed up to an Ironman.
Two years after Charles-Barclay won the womens 20-24 age-group in the World Championships and employed for her professional licence.
Reece and I were hooked on the practice and found out how big a struggle it was to get that which wed signed up for. It went out of a struggle to being our careers. We didnt expect that.
Its not simple to receive a expert licence . In the UK, the need would be to be within 8% of the winners period – that means making up the step from hurrying . Charles-Barclays application was rejected on the first effort.
The races I had been using to attempt to get my expert licence were the World Championships, she said. The expert winner was such a high standard that a whole lot of the expert women were not within 8% , so I essentially got the licence to a trial basis.
But the trial foundation permitted Charles-Barclay to challenge – and immediately. She was beaten by Switzerlands four-time world champion Daniela Ryf on her Ironman World Championships debut in Hawaii at 2017.
Could she mirror yet another British triathletes unexpected and explosive arrival on the scene?
Chrissie Wellington has been an unidentified force who came out of nowhere to win the World Championship in 2007. She moved on to dominate the sport and collect three titles.
In Red Bulls squad of athletes – Charles-Barclay joined her Ryf in 2017 – her year as a professional. As her profile grew – she currently has more than 250,000 Instagram followers thus did the competition.
At the World Championships that year, Charles-Barclay ended a mere nine minutes behind the favourite – that isnt extended when the race one of professionals takes approximately nine hours.
But it was the subsequent year once the heating system turned up. They began dividing records that were 19-year-old and removed from the beginning line.
They broke the program record, the womens swim course record was broken by Charles-Barclay, and the bike path record was taken by Ryf.
It was Ryf who had been to amass the title despite nearly retiring in the race due to a jellyfish sting – she became the fastest woman in an Ironman occasion that is official, by 17 minutes.
Definitely my main rival is Daniela Ryf, Charles-Barclay explained. Each year I believe I am edging that bit closer and people are enjoying the rivalry since they are seeing the gaps get smaller and bigger.
I hope this year that we have a much closer struggle and hopefully Ill come out at the top
This year, Charles-Barclay was unbeaten around four races until a five-minute drafting penalty at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September saw her slide from first to fifth.
Her highlight was winning Challenge Roth, each summer, the worlds biggest long-distance triathlon event that takes place from the city of Roth.
Last year I came second by nine seconds therefore it was such a big aim of mine to have this win, she explained.
She became a two-time winner of the Ironman African Championships, winner of Challenge Samorin, along with her first home race in Ironman 70.3 Stafford.
As far as sporting history that is rich belongs, triathlon is youthful but not without stature.
Racing on theBig Island in Hawaii is the best achievement in the sport as rivals must be eligible to race for a slot within their category for an event so as , in triathlons birthplace.
Its in which a Honolulu-based Navy few, Judy and John Collins, first proposed combining three endurance races to a single event.
The challenge turned into heads along with the idea caught on around the world. The event grew year on year, and also Hawaii shortly became the sponsor of the World Championships using unforgivable winds and its sweltering requirements.
The race has always had participants – the most successful is Paula Newby-Fraser, with eight world titles, two over triathlon legends Mark Allen and Dave Scott.
And as the openings between Ryf and Charles-Barclay decrease perform the differences between mens and womens completing times, which currently stand at about half an hour.
Charles-Barclay explained:Ive been in this sport for about five decades now and in the years the caliber of womens racing has only massively improved.
The times that women are winning races now is totally different to what it had been say five to 10 decades ago, and there is a lot more girls doing this game today then there was before, which is so cool to see.
The sponsorship opportunities stay equivalent.
Charles-Barclay stated:The prize money is exactly the same for women and men in this game, which is great and Id say there is more opportunities – you dont feel like just because youre a woman you are going to be paid or youre going to have less sponsor opportunities.
Ive certainly never felt any sort of inequality in the game, which is very good. There was spots for men at the World Championships but it is even now. It is very good to find that, and it is this kind of inclusive game
The Ironman World Championships start at 17:25 BST on Saturday, 12 October, in Kona, Hawaii.
BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin, former GB triathlete Annie Emmerson (with the help of several unique guests) mentor three beginners aiming to finish their very first triathlons in June 2019.
Check out the BBC Sport Live Guide for details of the forthcoming live game on the BBC.
Reviews and standings for your 2019 World Triathlon Series.
This blend of swimming, cycling and jogging is one of the toughest tests in sport – heres the way to get involved and locate a neighborhood club.
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