Clay shaping up well after breezing to win

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Local knowledge paid off for Rachel Clay as she breezed to a cherished home victory in the Portsmouth Sprint Triathlon.

Glorious weather helped make for a stunning spectacle on Southsea seafront on Sunday.

The roads were closed with a total of nine different races taking place.

Clay, who last year represented Great Britain at age group level, was the first female home in the sprint race, completing the 750m swim, 20k cycle ride and 5k run in a time of 1hr 17min 33sec.

The Petersfield-based triathlon star trains with the Portsmouth Triathletes club in Southsea.

She felt her local knowledge played a part in her victory.

Clay said: ‘I really enjoyed it. I swim in the sea here regularly, so I’m not too afraid of the sea.

‘I train with the Portsmouth Triathletes.

‘Just further up the coastline we swim in the sea at least twice a week.

‘I think the currents were pretty strong, especially by the pier.

‘It was tough. A little bit of local knowledge really pays off.

‘There was very little wind on the bike – it was very smooth, with closed roads which always helps.

‘And the run was a breeze really. Lots of people were on the course cheering and the sun came out for us.’

Clay is taking a year out from competing for Great Britain because of family commitments.

So it was great for her to have the chance to race at home in the Portsmouth City Council-hosted event.

She said: ‘It’s wonderful. It is always very positive down here.

‘These events are great – on the doorstep, good training and a good buzz.

‘It was only my second race this season.

‘I’ve got some bigger ones to come later in the season.

‘So it was a good warm-up to fine tune everything.

‘Last year I raced internationally.

‘I’m not this year because of family commitments but I hope to again next year.’

Clay caught the eye sporting her GB kit as she sped to victory.

Helen Nicholls, from Stokes Bay club, Bayside Tri, took second place in a time of 1.21.25 and Jenny Philips crossed the line third (1.28.04).

There was a huge contingent from Portsmouth Triathletes on show, as well as a big junior group from St John’s College in Southsea.

Clay added: ‘It’s really lovely to see the juniors coming through.

‘And the local club’s are very supportive, particularly Portsmouth Triathletes.’