Charlotte - champion of the world

Charlotte Taylor of Spalding with some of her triathlon and duathlon medals.
Charlotte Taylor of Spalding with some of her triathlon and duathlon medals.
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Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Chris Froome, Justin Rose, Christine Ohurougu, Tony McCoy, Charlotte Taylor.

In 2013, what did an ex-Spalding High School student have in common with a Wimbledon champion, Tour de France winner, US Open Golf champion, record-breaking National Hunt jockey and two world athletics champions.

South Parade, Spalding'Spalding based athlete Charlotte Taylor

South Parade, Spalding'Spalding based athlete Charlotte Taylor

Charlotte, who celebrates her twentieth birthday next Friday, became under-20 triathlon world champion in London last September after less than a year in the sport.

She said: “It was an amazing atmosphere and I really enjoyed the whole weekend of the championships.

“There were so many races going on and I loved hearing all the athletes from the village cheering on their teammates.

“At the start of my event, the swim had to be cut short because of the cold temperature and some people got quite upset.

Charlotte in action at the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in London.

Charlotte in action at the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in London.

“But I didn’t really mind and it didn’t make a big difference to my race tactics.”

On the same stretch of water and course, namely the Serpentine and Hyde Park where Alistair Brownlee won Olympic gold a year earlier, Charlotte Taylor, of Spalding Triathlon Club, set out on a 1,500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run that would put her on top of the world.

“The Serpentine wasn’t the clearest of water, but I finished the swim fairly well up in my age group.

“It was quite a long transition from the swim to the bike ride but it worked out fine and my next plan was to get going on the bike to warm up because it was quite cold on the day.

Winston Brown byline pic

Winston Brown byline pic

“I was quite nervous about the bike ride because it had been raining over the weekend and I’d seen people falling off their bikes on the tricky and twisty course. But I made sure that I got round and it was nice to take in some of the sights of London, even though the race seemed to go quite quickly.”

Charlotte qualified for the World Age Group Triathlon Championships by winning the under-19 British crown in Liverpool in June, her first-ever attempt at the Olympic standard triathlon.

She said: “I didn’t change the training that much for the World Championships because it had gone well in Liverpool, so I just needed to keep that progression going for London.

“I just wanted to get out and race as hard as I could after the bike ride and I felt pretty good after running a few laps round Hyde Park.

“But I didn’t really know where I was until I finished the race and they announced the names of the winners.

“I was shocked to have won but happy at the same time, especially as my parents had come down to see me, along with some people from Spalding Triathlon Club.”

The seeds for Charlotte’s success were sown many years before London when her competitive streak led to gold medals at Lincolnshire Schools, county and Anglian titles at both 3,000m and cross country levels.

“I started off as a gymnast when I was very young and moved on to athletics when I went to Spalding High School,” Charlotte said.

“But I did as much sport as I could, anthing and everything, until running became the sport I focused on because I did well in it.

“The problem was that I kept getting injured which meant that I couldn’t train and eventually, the injuries gave me no option but to have a go at triathlon.”

Charlotte, currently a student at Warwick University, discovered triathlon after taking up cycling and swimming to stay fit and when her injuries cleared up, members of Spalding Triathlon Club encouraged her to become a multi-event athlete.

“I’m a runner at heart but as things progressed, I liked cycling and swimming as well so I wanted to keep doing all three,” she said.

“I was quite keen to enter an event and I got input from the club on how to start out.

“When the British Age Group Triathlon Championships arrived, I was quite apprehensive about it because I’d never done a high-standard race before.

“But it was really exciting to race in Liverpool and it was a chance to see what I could do.”

After winning both the British and World Championships, Charlotte ended 2013 in style by lifting the British Universities and Colleges Duathlon title by almost a minute after a two, two-mile runs and a 10-mile bike ride in between.

Charlotte said: “I don’t really like to be in the limelight and I prefer being in the background. But I’m very competitive and I like to win.”