Sheffield teacher battles back to win duathlon bronze

Janice McWilliam
Janice McWilliam
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After undergoing a back operation seven years ago, super-fit teacher, Janice McWilliam was told that she would never run again.

On Sunday, she proved the medics wrong by winning a bronze medal at the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.

What made the success all the more remarkable was what Janice had to cope with in the lead up to her first competitive event for many years.

Four weeks ago, Janice’s mother died; her father was then taken into hospital and adding injury to heartache, just before that she had fallen off her bike meaning if the Head of Primary Phase at Hinde House School in Shiregreen was going to take part in the gruelling event, she would have to do so with her arm in plaster.

“It wasn’t until the Saturday night that the race organisers agreed for me to take part the following day, because my arm was in plaster and they thought there might be a safety issue,” said Janice who took third place in the 50-54 Female AG Sprint event with a time of 01:15:13.

“In the end they gave me the go-ahead, but it obviously wasn’t easy.”

She added: “I couldn’t really change the gears so I had to stay in a high gear for most of the bike ride and I had a device fitted so that I could use both brakes on the one side.”

Understandably, Janice wasn’t overly confident going into the event so a third-place is a stunning achievement, as she admits.

“I just thought, ‘I’ll go out there and give it all I’ve got’ and surprisingly I rode really well which helped me to that finish.

“From a personal point of view I am delighted because it was a very strong field, Great Britain particularly always send a strong team.”

Having been told that her running days were over, the finish was all the more sweet.

“I had the operation seven years ago and they told me that I wouldn’t be able to run,” she said. “But I eventually worked out a way of managing the pain for long enough so as to run and get through it.”

She added: “I couldn’t have given up - exercise is a big part of my life and I was determined that I would still have that.

“It was nice to be able to prove that I could do it after being told that it wouldn’t happen.”