Triathlon: Non (Stanford) better in the world

Stanford leads a British one-two in the World Triathlon Championships, continuing a fine GB tradition in this tough event

Five years after learning to ride a bike, one year after watching the Olympics on television and less than two months after breaking her arm, Britain’s Non Stanford again defied the odds, and even her own expectations, to win the world triathlon title.

Her team-mate Jodie Stimpson also produced an impressive run, finishing fourth to claim the overall world silver medal.

Stanford, who was nowhere near Olympic selection last year, arrived at the Games course in Hyde Park with a hope, though an outside one, of becoming the third British women’s world triathlon champion in the past 12 years – the prospect of which, she later claimed, meant she had not slept properly for three weeks.

But from the moment she threw open her curtains yesterday morning things went her way. Even the gods seemed on her side, unrelenting drizzle and leaden skies reminding her of home in Swansea and frustrating others used to warmer climes.

Stanford certainly had her share of luck in a race that saw her two rivals for the overall title suffer a series of misfortunes, but to use their problems as the principal reason for her success would be doing her a great disservice.

Even the Brownlee brothers, whose tolerance for endless training is legendary, are said to marvel at Stanford’s capacity for hard work and a punishing seven-day-a-week 30-hour schedule. Indeed, her idea of a rest day involves a two-hour swim, a three-hour bike ride and not even a sliver of chocolate or sniff of alcohol.

Many would have seen their season ended by the injuries she picked up from her bike crash in Hamburg, and yet just a few weeks later she was back on the start line, swimming one-armed and, amazingly, not going round in circles.

This season, Stanford – whose best result last year was a fifth place – has won twice and finished second three times in her six world series races, consistency that underlined her dedication. Just 12 points separated the top three in the world rankings at the start of the final race of the season, with the third- placed Stanford 12 points behind the series leader, Gwen Jorgensen, and four behind Germany’s Anne Haug.

But Haug had a nightmare swim, losing two minutes on her rivals, and the American race favourite Jorgensen crashed during the opening stages of the bike leg and tearfully retired.

Those cruel twists of fate put the race at Stanford’s mercy, especially as the 24-year-old former cross-country international, a one-time member of Dame Kelly Holmes’s mentoring programme, is considered one of triathlon’s best runners.

And she duly won the race in 2hr 1min 31sec to follow the British lead of former world champions Helen Jenkins, a two-time winner, and Leanda Cave.

“Being the world champion, it’s crazy, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Stanford. “I’m just trying to take it in my stride, but when I get five minutes to reflect on it I will probably get quite emotional. I just can’t believe it, to be honest, I can’t quite put it into words. All the hard work over the last year, I’ve just managed to hold it together and it’s paid off.”

As for silver-medallist Stimpson, she, like Stanford, has also enjoyed a breakthrough season – starting the year without a world series podium to her name but finishing it with one gold and three bronzes to leave her ranked second in the world.

Earlier, Jorgensen and Haug’s problems had meant Stanford started the run knowing a top-two finish would be enough, while finishing third and fourth would also secure the title if Stimpson – fourth in the world rankings before the race – didn’t win.

Stanford, who is part of the Brownlee brothers’ training group in Yorkshire, entered the run transition ahead and stayed there, piling the pressure on her rivals and opening up a clear advantage. However, she still had to serve a 15-second penalty for contravening equipment rules in the transition between the swim and bike legs. She served it with three kilometres remaining and re-entered the race with her commanding lead intact, finishing more than 20 seconds ahead of Ireland’s Aileen Reid and Australia’s Emma Moffatt.

Indeed, it looked as though the most pain she suffered all day was when someone sprayed champagne in her eye in the podium celebrations that followed.

“I went out really hard in the run to get a gap and never wanted to give them a chance to reel me back in,” added Stanford, last year’s world Under-23 champion. “I just wanted to stay ahead of them before I had to serve my penalty. It felt never-ending in that penalty box. I just got out there as quickly as possible. It was so cold and I couldn’t feel my feet; the crowd support was great and I couldn’t hear myself breathe, which was good because I was breathing really heavy.

“To stand on the podium with a fellow Brit was great and there was no better way to do it. Hopefully Alistair and Jonathan [Brownlee] will do the same in the men’s race and it will be a perfect weekend for British triathlon.”

A year ago, Stanford said her short-term goal was to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and her long-term ambition was to ditch the Under-23 part of “world Under-23 champion”. Mission accomplished. Next, after a long-overdue sleep, she will be on the road to Rio.

Stanford’s weekly training

Monday 45-minute steady run, 3.5km recovery swim, one-hour strength and conditioning session, 90 minutes on exercise bike.

Tuesday 4km swim, 40-minute easy run followed by running drills, 90-minute bike session, track session to work on speed. Maximum distance covered: 5km.

Wednesday 4.5km swim, one-hour steady run, four-hour steady bike ride, one-hour strength and conditioning.

Thursday 4km swim, three-hour steady bike ride.

Friday 4.5km swim, one-hour strength and conditioning session.

Saturday Cross-country run, three-hour steady ride, 30-minute easy run.

Sunday One-hour swim, 90-minute steady run, three-hour mountain bike/cross-biking session.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - Kent - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# and .Net Developer - n...

Guru Careers: Digital Marketing Exec / Online Marketing Executive

£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'