Conquering world final in Hawaii remains key focus for Norwich Ironman star Joe Skipper

Joe Skipper of Great Britain climbs the Solar Hill on the bike during the Challenge Triathlon Roth o

Joe Skipper of Great Britain climbs the Solar Hill on the bike during the Challenge Triathlon Roth on July 17, 2016 in Roth, Germany. Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for Challenge Triathlon - Credit: Getty Images for Challenge Triat

He's become a star of Norfolk sport in recent years but Cringleford triathlete Joe Skipper says he has learned more from his failures than his successes in 2016.

Scenes from the Norfolk Sports Awards 2016 held at Open in Norwich, Joe Skipper receives the Male Sp

Scenes from the Norfolk Sports Awards 2016 held at Open in Norwich, Joe Skipper receives the Male Sportsperson of the Year award. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The former Notre Dame High School pupil catapulted himself to prominence in July when becoming the first British athlete to go under eight hours in a race over the full Ironman distance, at Challenge Roth in Germany.

However, the 28-year-old's season culminated in frustration, finishing 42nd at the Ironman World Championship after the 112-mile cycle stage went badly in the heat and humidity of Hawaii in October.

'I know I'm saying it with hindsight but if I raced it now with what I know and the fitness I have, I would easily get in the top 10,' a bullish Skipper said.

'They say you need to race it two or three times and to be honest I don't think I gave it the respect it deserved because I got 13th last year when I wasn't in as good shape as what I was this year. I thought I was easily going to get in the top 10 but it shows you can't take it for granted, you've got to give it the respect it deserves.'

Joe Skipper on his way to finishing second at the 2016 Taupo Ironman on March 5, 2016 in Taupo, New

Joe Skipper on his way to finishing second at the 2016 Taupo Ironman on March 5, 2016 in Taupo, New Zealand. Photo by Mead Norton/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

The Lowestoft-raised endurance athlete was named Male Sportsperson of the Year at the Norfolk Sports Awards recently but has already turned his attentions to trying to continue his success in 2017.

'I want to work on my swim so I'm going to race in South Africa (in April), it gives me another month of training on my swim,' Skipper continued.

'I've got a coach, who I've had since June and we've made some big progress, so if I can get my swim sorted, I'll be smashing it. I'm going to do South Africa and Texas, where I kind of had my breakthrough in 2015.

'If you can do well in them then it gets you a lot of publicity and at Texas the course is now faster than it used to be so, potentially, I could be the first person under four hours on the bike.

'I want to try and win some big races. I've been second in so many races – always the bridesmaid, never the bride, that's what my dad says!'

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