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Andover's Natalie is British Biathle champion once again
Natalie Thomas is once again British Senior Ladies’ Biathle Champion after another storming performance at Salford Quays over the weekend.
It ended a remarkable fortnight for the Andover athlete as she won the European Biathle title in Portugal just two weeks previously.
It also qualifies her for the Biathle World Championships, in Cyprus in October as the British Champion.
“It went better than I thought it would” said a delighted Natalie, who along with colleague and fellow champion Margaret Smith, popped into the Advertiser offices with her medal.
“I was very tired after Portugal and just went to enjoy the race but it was tough and fast and I thought the second place girl Nicola Roder was catching me but in the end I won by 11 seconds.”
2011 World Champion Roder shot off at a tremendous pace for the first 1,500m run, with the pace being faster than Natalie would have liked, but she decided to stay with the leading group.
Roder started the second 500m lap a couple of steps in front of Natalie, but she soon moved to the front and after the hard first run, she swam a fast relaxed 200m and was able to keep her lead.
Back out for her second run, Natalie was determined to retain her British title and working extremely hard tore round the three laps, beating Roder by 11 seconds.
It was an extremely hard race and Natalie was delighted with her performance, which was her fastest ever time at Salford.
Margaret Smith in the Masters C class (age 60-69) kept just behind her big rival Mary Collett for the whole of the first 1,000m run and went into the quay just behind her. Mary put in a strong 100m swim and moved ahead, exiting 14 seconds before Margaret who felt strong for her second run, but Mary was in good form and deservedly won the gold medal, with Margaret happy with her performance for the silver.
The pair will be battling hard against each other in Cyprus.
Margaret was to the point when asked what her plans were for Cyprus: “Just to beat Mary Collett!” Collett, Margaret’s friend and main rival over a number of years is described by her as ‘a natural athlete’ and the two will go head to head in October.
Margaret’s daughter Heather Matthews only took up Biathle this year and in the senior Ladies class, showed a massive improvement.
After a very good run she entered the quay in ninth place and with a tremendous swim moved up a place. Heather’s second run showed just how determined she is as she overtook on her second lap of the three, and made sure she was going to keep her seventh place.
Remarkably the girls in 8th and 9th places had both beaten Heather by over a minute in the previous biathle.
Heather’s husband Will is still building up fitness after ligament reconstruction in his ankle in April.
Three in the Senior Men’s race were previous biathle world champions, including the current champion, Richard Stannard of Triathlon fame, so Will knew he was in a tough race.
He put in a steady first run but fell behind in the swim, then after a good transition he put maximum effort into a very good second run.
Youth A Matthew Cook was unable to compete and applied for a bye.
Matthew had won the three 2013 British Tour Biathles he took part in and this enabled him to be awarded the sixth place in his class.
A delighted Matthew will be joining Natalie and Margaret in Cyprus in October for the Biathle World Championships.
Next up for Natalie is the World Age Group Aquathon, to be held in Hyde Park with the Sprint Triathlon at the same venue two days later.
That then will hopefully set her up for Cyprus in October where she and Natalie plus Matthew will be once again be self funding their trip.
With Natalie hoping to break into the Elite Athletes next season which she sees as a ‘realistic aim’ the three flying the Andover flag are still looking for sponsors who should be looking to get in board for what should be a thrilling next 12 months.