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Sam Hughes qualifies to compete for Great Britain at the Duathlon European Championships

Sam Hughes racing at the qualifiers

Stamford School student, Sam Hughes, Year 11, recently ran and cycled his way to success, achieving second at the European Age Group Duathlon Qualifiers, held in Bedford on the 13th October 2019. This achievement deservingly wins his place to compete for Great Britain within his age group team at the Duathlon European Championships, 2020.

The duathlon encompassed a 5km run and 20km cycle, followed by a final 2.5km run. Racing within the Under 20s age category, despite being just 15, Sam was required to achieve a top three position out of seven fellow athletes within his age bracket to be eligible to race for Great Britain.

Despite challenging weather conditions, Sam came first out of these seven competitors, and second overall at the under 20s level. Sam’s resilience and drive proved further testament to his success, whereby following his first run, a bike crash and mechanical issues critically took nearly two minutes out of his race. As the last of three qualifying races in 2019, it is a huge achievement for Sam to have gained his spot on the GB Age Group Team.

Over the past three years Sam has seen increasing progress within his sporting career; perseverance allowed him to achieve top ten results throughout 2017, despite a long-standing injury, yet 2018 unfortunately led to further hamstring damage and an inability to enter for the National qualifiers.

Undeterred by previous injuries, Sam qualified for the British National Triathlon series earlier this year and raced alongside top athletes at his age category and higher, achieving top forty places on three occasions. He has additionally recently been selected for the East Midlands Development Squad, providing him access to fantastic training facilities at Loughborough University.

Alongside his training, Sam is currently studying ten subjects for his GCSEs including drama, history, French and Spanish. His short-term sporting goals include regularly finishing within the top twenty places at National Elite Youth Triathlon events, achieving a medal at the National Elite Youth Duathlon Championships and to score top three of the GB team at the European Age Group Championships. Considering his longer-term aspirations, Sam would like to compete for Great Britain in elite races.

Speaking about his experience racing, Sam commented: “I am especially self-motivated and determined and I now believe that it is starting to show in my performances. Last winter, I raced lots of cross-country events getting to English Schools Championships for the second time, as well as achieving both fourth at the County School Championships and third at the County Club Championships.

“In the recent European Age Group Duathlon Qualifiers, the racing conditions were horrible; it was very windy and pouring with rain. The amount of still water on the course might be why I crashed, as the course was very exposed to the elements!”

“I cannot wait to race for Great Britain’s Age group team next March in Punta, Spain. I am still slightly shocked that I have qualified, especially after a crash on the bike. I will now be training extremely hard during the winter and early spring to make sure that I am ready to be competitive come the start of the race. I will also be focusing on the qualifying race for the British National Triathlon Series, which is still my main goal alongside the National Youth Duathlon Championships.”