Defending champion ready for Portsmouth Duathlon mission

Champion Piotr Meller with duathlon organiser Rob Piggot.  Picture: Neil Marshall (170306-18)
Champion Piotr Meller with duathlon organiser Rob Piggot. Picture: Neil Marshall (170306-18)
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PIOTR MELLER is determined not to give any of his rivals an easy ride as he gets ready for his Portsmouth Duathlon title defence.

The competition is going to be fierce at the front of the field with some high-quality multi-sport racers set to compete.

It’s also a great event for newcomers and gives people a chance to get out and be active in a supportive environment along Southsea seafront.

Meller lifted the 2017 title ahead of Michael Hawkes who finished second and is also back this year..

Kelly Stokes took the ladies’ series crown and is signed up again.

Organiser Rob Piggott always puts on a great show.

The three-race series begins on Sunday and defending champion Meller is aiming to become the second man to win the title twice.

He said: ‘Because I won last year and I am a lot stronger I am not going to let it go easily.

‘I am trying to follow the steps of my friend Patryk Huczkowski who won it twice.

‘There will be really strong competition. Neil Collins is very fast and he is in for the first race.

‘Ben Terry is doing all three races this time and he is very good.

‘Tom Barnard is doing the series as well. Tom is young and he is getting so fast now.

‘We also have Rob Arkell, from Stubbington Green Runners, who is a fantastic multi-sport athlete here.

‘He could be the one for everyone to have to beat. Last year he finished third on Ironman Maryland in the United States. He’s really fast.

‘I started the duathlon series for the first time in 2015 and I finished ninth, then the year after I was fifth and last year I won.

‘Now it is the fourth one and I feel strong, I feel I am going to be there. I want to compete with these fast guys, that is how I can move forward and improve.

‘Last year was the best season I had and I think I am a lot stronger this year.’

Arkell, from Fareham, has already qualified for the iconic Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Stokes, of Bishop’s Waltham, will also be there after she finished second in Ironman Maryland to seal her place.

Rachel Fair, who was third in 2017, and Victoria Ayriss, fifth in 2017, are back to compete again.

Meller, who represents Portsmouth Triathletes, has urged newcomers to get involved.

He added: ‘The Portsmouth Duathlon Series is the best start of the multi-sport career or adventure.

‘It’s so much fun and it’s on the seafront so it is amazing.

‘You see people coming back every year because they are enjoying themselves and they want to get better.’

The race starts at 8.45am on Sunday with the base and transition point at Speakers’ Corner, Southsea, PO5 3PG.