Triathlon's coming home... to Reading
IN THE summer of 1996 the country went football crazy as Euro 96 made England the focus of the international game for the first time since the triumphant World Cup of 1966.
With a rejuvenated Gazza pulling the strings and Alan Shearer scoring for fun, Terry Venables' side threatened to go all the way as the world's sport returned to the country of its birth.
The old enemy Germany, coupled with the Three Lions' traditional Achilles heel, penalty kicks, conspired to dump them out at the semi-final stage. But the tournament will always be remembered fondly for capturing the imagination of the country with the motto 'Football's coming home'.
Now 14 years on the country's oldest triathlon club is looking to emulate the success of Euro 96 by bringing their sport back to its ancestral home - Reading.
Thames Valley Triathlon Club and mysportingtimes.com have already confirmed that the 2010 Reading Triathlon will take place on Sunday, September 12.
This will include sprint and Olympic distance races, which feature an open water swim. And organiser Jerry Muscroft is keen to add many more events to the Reading triathlon calendar.
He said: "Not many people know it, but the first ever triathlon held in the UK was in Reading back in 1983 at Kirtons Farm. Reading is the home of triathlon in this country and we are telling everyone - triathlon is coming home!
"The 2010 Reading triathlon is already confirmed back at Kirtons Farm, but hopefully that will only be the tip of the iceberg.
"We are keen to have a women's only event, which are always very popular and we are looking at a corporate event as well as duathlons (running and cycling) and aquathons (swimming and running).
"We also would love to start an inter-schools competition to get youngsters involved and are looking into that.
"What we want to do is create a triathlon legacy in Reading."
And Muscroft is hoping to see the people of Reading embrace triathlon, which he sees as an ideal way to shed a few pounds after the excesses of Christmas.
He said: "It is a great way of getting fit and getting focused.
"It was one of the fastest growing sports around and it is easy to see why. It is something that everyone can do.
"And while elite triathletes pay a lot for the latest gear - you can buy a carbon bike for £5,000 - it is very cheap for beginners. All you need is a pair of trainers, a bathing suit and a bike, which are things most people will have anyway.
"You are not competing against other people, you are competing against yourself and your time that you have set.
"You can push yourself as little or as much as you would like. At a beginners level it is a very low impact sport.
"And another thing that I think is great about the sport is that absolute novices can compete in the same race as World Champions. I don't think any other sports can say that."
Team GB came home with a whole host of medals from the recent World Championships on Australia's Gold Coast. And Muscroft it confident triathlon will be one of the sports to shine at London 2012.
He said: "In the last few years cycling has really taken off in this country and that was shown at the last Olympics. I really think that triathlon could be the next sport to do that.
"I've always felt that Britain will excel in at least one of the so-called 'minority' sports at London 2012, and I'm confident triathlon can be that sport to step up."
Anyone interested in competing in the Reading Triathlon can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To find out more about the Thames Valley Triathletes visit www. tvt.tritalk.co.uk