European triumph just the start

Halesworth doctor Wendy Stammers is determined to cap a fantastic year with success in this weekend's national mountain bike championships.

Halesworth doctor Wendy Stammers is determined to cap a fantastic year with success in this weekend's national mountain bike championships.

Stammers heads to Wales still basking in the glow of her European triathlon victory earlier this summer in France.

"I want to compete for my country at the highest level," she said. "I've had a fantastic year and feel as though I am gradually working myself up that ladder. Really I have to thank my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement. Without such a superb network I would never be where I am today. With their help I am trying to live my dream."

Stammers survived stamina sapping conditions to triumph against some high class French opposition on home soil in Autun.

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"The race site was simply stunning and the weather extremely hot," she said. "There were 86 competitors in the field. I came out of the swim section in second but the bike course was one of the toughest I have raced on. We had an 8km climb on each circuit. The French girls were very strong and I just couldn't hold onto them. I reached the transition area in fourth ahead of the final event - a 10km run. It was only in the last 1km that I had the leader in sight but the Stammers determination kicked in with 100m to go and I sprinted past her into the stadium. That has to be my favourite finish - there is nothing like sprinting for a gold medal."

Such dedication led to a life-changing decision to base herself in Australia to train full-time.

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"Some might say it was crazy but I had this idea of becoming the best athlete I can be," she said. "I worked part time in the emergency department of one of the Brisbane hospitals to keep my hand in with medicine."

Stammers overcome a niggling groin problem to finish 11th in the world age group triathlon championships, which earned an invitation to compete against the elite in a New Zealand X-Terra event earlier this year.

"I must admit I was extremely nervous," she said. "It was a fantastic race - unfortunately one of the other professional athletes slashed her leg and before I knew it I had stopped to give her advice. That got me a reprimand from my coach - unless someone is dying do not take on the roll of doctor during a race. I still finished fourth overall and would've won my age group category by ten minutes."

Stammers returns to Wales next month to complete her domestic season with a GB outing she hopes will earn qualification to the elite X-Terra world championships in Hawaii.

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