Collins triumphs in Eton Sprints race despite last-gasp wrong turn on run

Neil Collins in action in the Eton Sprints race
Neil Collins in action in the Eton Sprints race
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Even a late wrong turn did not stop Neil Collins securing Eton Sprints success.

The Southsea triathlete continued his fine year as he builds up to the European Championships in July.

For many competitors the Eton Dorney race was crucial to their bid to book a place in the British Triathlon Federation team for the World Championships in Chicago, in September.

Collins, however, had already secured his Great Britain spot with fourth place in the British Sprint Distance Championships last time out.

That meant the pressure was off somewhat.

But the winner of the first two Portsmouth Duathlon Series events this year was on top form again as he won the 750m swim, 21.2k bike ride and 5k run event in a total time of 1hr 3min 55sec.

He had a few difficulties to overcome along the way, including turning into transition, instead of the finish, at the end of the 5k run.

But even going off course didn’t halt his charge to victory as he sealed success with 10 seconds to spare.

Collins said: ‘Of course, like all good drama, there was potential for disaster right up to the end.

‘I took a wrong turn and ran into transition rather than over the finishing mat, had to do a 180, and retrace my steps on to the correct route.

‘As I had already qualified for the World Championships at St Neots this should have been a no jeopardy, fun day out.

‘But personal pride is always at stake and I wanted to put up a good contest for my GB team-mates.

‘The highlight of the race for me was being “coached” by my eight and nine-year-old boys as they scooted alongside me on the run course!’

After regular training in the sea off Southsea beach, Collins found the lake temperature a bit on the warm side.

He added: ‘Mistake number one was deciding to wear a neoprene swim cap under my race cap.

‘With the lake temperature at a balmy 16 degrees, this resulted in my brain being fried within the first 200m.’

The David Lloyd Port Solent racer then completed the bike leg in 32.37.

He came out of transition sixth and a storming 17.43 5k run saw him catch all his rivals to win win.

Isle of Wight Navy triathlete Kris Nicholson finished sixth in the 40-44 age group (1.04.56).

And Portsmouth’s Rory Bryan took fourth place in the 45-49 age group.

They have now joined Collins in booking their World Championships qualifying places.