Rotherham training pals land golds in European Duathlon

Paula Fisher, left, and Janice McWilliam
Paula Fisher, left, and Janice McWilliam
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Two training partners have won gold medals in the European Duathlon Championships in Soria, Spain.

Primary School head teacher Janice McWilliam won the 55-59 age group - despite being told she would never run again after falling off a horse eight years ago.

And fellow Rotherham Harrier Paula Fisher triumphed in the 60-64s.

The two train together on their bikes while Paula is also a member of Rotherham Wheelers and says this was a contributing factor to her success in Spain.

“Some hard cycling with Wheelers recently helped me with the big race.

“The first run was 5k and going into transition I was third on my category. A hard and hilly bike section saw me pull through to first in my category which I held onto in the final run to finish in gold medal position in the 60-64 category.

“It was great to find out that both Janice and I had won our respective age groups.”

Paula took early retirement from her job as a financial controller and now works part time for Sheffield International Venues at the English Institute of Sport as an athletics coach.

She coaches the AthleTOTS classes where Under -5s learn the fundamentals of athletics.

She also coaches children and adults and said: “One of my favourite classes in the week is where I lead an adult athletics class which consists of women mainly in their twenties wanting to get into or back into athletics.”

Mum of two Paula , from Wickersley, is a real all-rounder and won a women’s sailing national championship many years ago.

More recently she clinched top ten places in sailing championships crewing an Enterprise Dinghy.

She also ran in a cross country relay team in the over 55 category alongside Janice for Rotherham Harriers.

Janice has been running since she was in her Twenties, but thought her career was over when she fell off a horse eight years ago.

“I had an operation on my back and told that I wouldn’t run again.

“So I started cycling but I didn’t give up on the idea of running again and after seeing other doctors and having pain management injections and doing excersises I started again.

“So I throught I’d use both skills to do the duathlon sprint distance - a 5k run, 20 k bike then a 2.5 k run.”

She overcame further problems to eventually triumph in Spain.

The Hinde House school head was third in the world age group duathlon championships three years ago despite having a broken thumb and her hand in a plaster cast.

She was second in the Europeans last year in Germany, despite falling off her bike, before going one better in Spain last month.