World title comes as big shock to Chapple

MEGAN CHAPPLE is an age-group champion of the world.

Megan Chapple won the 25-29 women's age group triathlon category in Abu Dhabi. (31518397)
Megan Chapple won the 25-29 women's age group triathlon category in Abu Dhabi. (31518397)

The London-based Sarnian won the 25-29 category and finished third woman overall at Saturday’s World Age Group Championships in Abu Dhabi, which ran separately to an elite finals event where Bermuda’s Flora Duffy secured the highest international title available.

Chapple cut a classy figure against her immediate opposition, covering the roughly Olympic distance course in 2hrs 9min. 23sec. – over 2min. clear of category runner-up Ana Ramos of Portugal.

‘I’m super chuffed,’ the 26-year-old said yesterday while clearly still in disbelief.

‘It was not really expected at all. I knew nothing of what the standard was going to be – it was honestly just the biggest shock.’

The outcome was especially surprising given that she had spent the last five weeks troubled by patellofemoral pain, which impacted her run and bike training heavily.

‘To be honest, I was not sure if I was even going to be able to race.

‘I did as much training as I could do without causing my knee any pain.

‘I went in in the dark – I had no idea how it was going to be.’

The age-group race consisted of a 1.5km non-wetsuit swim, shorter 38km bike and 10km run on the beautiful tourist hotspot that is Yas Island.

With her inexperience of non-wetsuit swimming adding to the challenge of her weaker discipline, Chapple trailed Ramos by almost 4min. out the water.

However, quicker transitions and cycling enabled her to eat up the gap before she took the lead 1km into the run. She ended up producing the fastest bike and run of her age group.

In the combined field of all age groups, only Great Britain rival Hayley Rigby (2-04-49) and Macau’s Hoi Long (2-08-00) finished ahead.

‘I suppose all just went to plan really ... I am just so over the moon,’ she said.

Having taken up triathlon just six years ago, Chapple progressed rapidly to seal Island Games silver at Gibraltar 2019, yet 2022 has been her annus mirabilis – victory at Barcelona Ironman 70.3 and now this surprising season finale.

But her well-deserved rest will not last long.

Looking onto a busy 2023 featuring a home Island Games, ‘Worlds’ events for Olympic distance and 70.3, plus a marathon debut and long-distance sportive in Mallorca, she added: ‘I love competing and just love doing sport.’

In fact, Chapple was not the only Guernseywoman to seal a world age-group title in Abu Dhabi.

Andrea Nightingale continued her run of form by taking the age 60-64 aqua-bike honours.

Nightingale let Australia’s Allison Jones go nearly 3min. clear on the swim, but she flipped that on the bike to win her category by 1-34.

Of the other two Sarnian age-group triathletes, Wendy Leathem finished seventh in the 50-59 women’s triathlon, while Ove Svejstrup placed 11th in the 40-44 men.

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