Cringleford’s Joe Skipper focused on future success after bronze in World Long Distance Triathlon Championship
- Credit: Archant
He's the Norwich triathlete who became number three in the world – but Joe Skipper's sights are already set on yet more success before the summer is done.
The Cringleford man followed up his excellent silver in last month's Ironman Texas international triathlon with a third place finish at the weekend's World Long Distance Triathlon Championship in Sweden.
But with Ironman UK taking place in Bolton on July 19, followed in October by the prestigious World Ironman Championship in Hawaii, the 27-year-old can't wait for his next event – and another chance to prove his incredible endurance.
'I think this just backs up my result in Texas, which was a huge race and only one step under the Ironman in Hawaii – but this one in Sweden was a big one as well,' acknowledged the former Notre Dame High School pupil.
'I ran really well in Sweden so I know now if I can put a really good run and really good bike together, I'll be right up there in any race.
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'But I must admit I haven't really looked back on how good the weekend's result was. All I've got my mind on is trying to win the Ironman UK. It was nice at the time of course, but I just love the racing and now I can't wait for the next one.
'It's going to be a brilliant opportunity for me in Bolton. I've got to be one of the favourites to win after the last two races, and if I'm on form and feel like I did on Saturday, I should be winning there.
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'It will be a strong field because the prize money has increased and for a lot of people, it's really their last chance to get the points they need to qualify for Hawaii. But I think I can beat any of them.'
Skipper needs to the points too, to a degree. However, his superb recent record means his current tally is not far off what may be needed to reach the World Ironman. He may even have enough points in the bag already.
Far in excess of the Oylmpic distances, Saturday's efforts included a shortened 1.5km swim due to the low water temperature, 120km on his bike and a final 30km run.
Skipper, who was born and raised in Lowestoft, admitted dropping distances to compete in Olympic triathlon does not tempt him. The discipline also fails to make the most of his strength on the bike.
The reality is the other extreme, with his success in Texas and the challenge awaiting him in both Bolton and Hawaii centred on the Ironman triathlon distances of a 2.4-mile (3.9km) swim, 112-mile (180km) bike ride – and all finished off with an additional 26.2 miles (42km) on foot.
'I always liked the challenge of doing it – it's ridiculous, doing all that swimming and biking, and then finishing it off with a marathon,' laughed Skipper. 'I wanted to do it just to see if I could do it, and how it would feel.
'My swim has definitely improved. It wasn't as good in Sweden as it has been, but then it's so hard to execute a race where you do your best swim, your best bike and your best run all in one go. Those races only happen once a year, and that's if you're lucky.
'I love the challenge of the Ironman. That is what motivates me, pushing myself for all those hours.'
From 36th after his Swedish swim, Skipper's bike and run heroics flew him to the podium – paving the way for another Norfolk athlete to lead the way at such a tough sport; Feltwell's Chrissie Wellington was a four-times Ironman champion.
'Tri-Anglia are really big on triathlon and especially Ironman, and they make a big thing of it,' he added.
'And I think that's helped out. It certainly helped me, that kind of exposure to the races out there. You see others doing it and think there's no reason why I can't do that. Once you get into it, you always want to go faster and push yourself harder. So you keep going back to more.'