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Ann Kinaham

At the ripe age of 65, and not having previously been a sporty individual, Ann took up triathlons, having sought out ways to stay fit without putting too much strain on joints. As they require regular training, triathlons are a fantastic way to get out and keep active whilst improving overall health – both physical and mental. However, in order for Ann to truly embroil herself in the sport she had to overcome her fear of water, taking swimming lessons and learning to front crawl. Having succeeded, Ann now promotes triathlons for older women as well as working with Cycling UK to start a women’s cycle group encouraging women who have previously felt too nervous cycling in traffic, building confidence, forming support networks and seeing a significant number of women transitioning from hybrid shopping bikes to road bikes, cycling longer distances and taking part in events too.

When asked what or who inspired her to shed her self-confessed ‘non-sporty’ skin, Ann explains “I remember in 2014 when my knee was so bad I could hardly get on and off the pavement or walk across the office, I watched Davina McCall undertake a lengthy swim/cycle/run event for Sport Relief. She was in a lot of pain each evening but instead of giving up, she sat in her ice bath, bandaged her legs and got back on the bike the next morning. I had to choose at that stage whether to accept that my painful joints limited my life style and look forward to a retirement filled with watching TV from the sofa or to find a way of becoming more active.”

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Having taken the initial tentative steps off the sofa, Ann saw her fitness journey go from strength to strength as she took part in the Ride London 100 sportive before taking on the John O’Groats to Lands End ride with her son the following year. Cycling around 60 miles a day wasn’t easy but they successfully completed it giving Ann the confidence to attempt some gentle jogging. Joining in with a couple of the local  park runs Ann soon found herself regularly pounding the pavements of Liskeard with her running club, enjoying the freedom found in lacing up her trainers. After a few months she felt healthier and happier, her knee wasn’t suffering and so she launched herself into learning to swim in order to take part in the Into Tri Liskeard Triathlon. Inspired once more by another celebrity story - this time Louise Minchen’s story of qualifying as an age group athlete to represent GB for triathlon’s in the World Championships – Ann felt a determination to master front crawl, undertaking swimming lessons and focussing on technique. Encouraged, she tried her first sea swim, enjoying the natural flotation provided by the salty water. Swimming a little further each week Ann then entered more events and this year alone has swum in ten triathlons, improving her times as she goes.

Aside from the obvious health improvements, Ann has seen a complete overhaul in her wellbeing and credits the triathlons for this explaining, “Triathlon must be one of the best sports for older people because it places so little strain on the joints, being just a little bit of swimming, a little bit of cycling, and a little bit of running. I always feel well at the end of a triathlon and after doing a few I noticed my back ache had cleared up and I also no longer needed to bandage or ice my knee - incredible! I have met so many people at the triathlon events and in talking discovered that we have all had to go through the same sort of journey and all get that great sense of achievement.”