GB TRIATHLETE Ben Rawlins has just completed a season of racing and training in Europe and is now holder of an international title, writes Mike Mewse.

The Yate-based 18-year-old has had a hectic schedule of flights and driving over a gruelling season and after fourth-place at the ITU World Championships in Spain in April, Rawlins re-focused for domestic and European races. His form continued to improve and culminated in a win at in the Under 20 Aquathlon event at the European Triathlon Union Championships in Romania.

Despite a difficult journey to Romania, Rawlins made it to the start line of the Aquathlon event in great condition and full of confidence.

Aquathlon is the event for the Run / Swim specialists in triathlon.

The 1 kilometre swim and 5 K run was held at the lake complex in the Transilvanian resort of Targu Mures. With the water at 25 degrees the open water swim was a non-wetsuit race with a mass start. Rawlins made a strong start in the swim but was boxed in at the half way point and losing time to the leaders. He battled his way out to chase the breakaway group but, despite a strong effort, was out of the swim in 13.19 and 52 seconds down on the leader. A fast transition gave him momentum and Rawlins set about tracking down the six athletes ahead.

Rawlins, a Westbury Harriers runner, was soon catching and passing other athletes and with 500 metres to go caught the two leaders (GB team mates James Callis and Rhys Davies) and passed them. Callis dug in and tried to hold on but Rawlins surged to the line 12 seconds ahead to win his first international title with a 16.31 run time.

His coach Mike Mewse said: “Ben didn’t panic after being held up in the swim. His run was top-class and the seven seconds he gained in transition were crucial. He deserves great credit for his determination and dedication. We set out six years ago with a plan for him to become a world class athlete and we’ve achieved that aim. He’s done amazingly well to beat athletes who are funded and sponsored.”

Rawlins now switches back to full triathlon and will be putting in extra bike mileage as he steps up to senior racing.