Euro-star Lauren Steadman confirmed her status as one of the world’s most exciting paratriathletes.
The University of Portsmouth student has been slowly building a reputation in the sport after starring at last year’s Paralympics in London as a swimmer.
And she made a major statement of intent ahead of this year’s world championships in Hyde Park with victory at the ETU Paratriathlon European Championships in Alanya, Turkey, last month.
Steadman’s triumph came as something of a surprise, with the 20-year-old still learning her trade in the highly-competitive three-discipline event.
The fact reigning European champion and experienced Team GB team-mate, Clare Cunningham, joined her on the start line also made the challenge facing Steadman that bit more difficult.
However, the psychology student wasn’t fazed by the occasion and excelled under pressure to lead the field home in a time of 1hr 9mins 25sec.
That was more than two minutes faster than Cunningham, who had to settle for second place – leaving Peterborough-born Steadman in a state of shock.
‘It still hasn’t sunk in,’ admitted Steadman.
‘I wasn’t expecting to win and was at best expecting a place on the podium.
‘I didn’t know who was going to be there, what the other competitors’ form was like, or how hot the conditions would be.
‘I knew I had a good chance but didn’t want to get my expectations too high and end up disappointed.
‘However, I led from start to finish and gained a lot of ground in both the swim and on the bike.
‘Clare was closing in on the run, but I was too far ahead and was just shocked when I crossed the line in first place.
‘To be honest, I’m still in shock now.’
Steadman, who was competing in the TRI-4 category, revealed she had been suffering from the agony of shin splints in the build up to her race.
She was determined, however, not to let the injury impede her bid for European glory and the chance to lay down a marker in the presence of her rivals.
‘They’ve been very painful and were on my mind a lot beforehand,’ said Steadman.
‘I managed to hold out, however, and built up a bit of a lead before the run.
‘They’re still a bit sore but I’ve got a bit of time between now and my next race in Liverpool for nationals.
‘They’re in two weekend’s time and are another major event.
‘But I’ll maybe use them as a bit of a training competition.
‘My main goal this year is the world championships in September.’
Steadman has enlisted the help of City of Portsmouth coaches Bronwin Cater and Gerry North, plus Portsmouth Northsea’s Paul Hogg, in her bid to become the best in her new sport.
She thanked them for all the help they’ve provided
‘I don’t know what I’d do without them and the University of Portsmouth,’ she said.