‘Lucky’ Stokes ponders going professional

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James Cockle (red) alongside team mate Chris Widman (blue) in action for Wightlink Warriors.

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Kelly Stokes will consider her chances of going professional after competing in today’s ETU Challenge Half Distance European Championships in Mallorca.

The amateur triathlete, who works as an air traffic controller, has put in some excellent performances over the last year.

And the displays have prompted her to re-think her future after a knee injury had threatened to derail her sporting ambitions.

She said: ‘I am going to have to sit down and think exactly how am I going to do it.

‘To be able to think about this is something I never thought I would be able to do a few years ago when I was lying in hospital.

‘I just feel lucky being able to compete in triathlons after my knee problems.’

The decision will be made in the coming months once Stokes has enjoyed some time off.

Stokes arrives in Mallorca on the 
back of a fine display at last month’s ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Weihai, China.

The 32-year-old managed to finish just outside the medals despite undergoing numerous knee operations in the last three years.

She finished fourth for Great Britain in the competitive female 30-34 age group in a time of 7hr 9min 58sec.

That time also placed her 12th overall among female amateurs.

The Portsmouth Triathlete felt very lucky to achieve a top five place, given her previous injury problems.

She said: ‘I thought my chances of putting on a Great Britain 
vest were long gone but the opportunity to represent my country is something I’ve always dreamed of when I was a kid.

‘I wasn’t going to turn down the chance and I’m glad I didn’t – it was a dream come true.’

After the ITU boasted the Weihai course would be the hardest yet for the World Championships, Stokes confessed it was a challenging route.

She said: ‘It didn’t help it was so hot and the hills were very steep which meant it was demanding.

‘But it was really scenic and coastal which made it better.’

Her appearance at the worlds 
came after she finished fifth at the ETU Challenge Long Distance 
Triathlon European Championships in Vichy last year.

Stokes underwent eight knee 
operations in 2011 after several injuries playing football and was told that she should stop playing the sport.

Instead, she focused her attentions on competing in triathlons.

‘After seeing an Ironman 
competition on television I thought I could try that,’ she said.

‘My family thought I was crazy after my knee problems but I had to give it a shot.’

Her day job makes it difficult for Stokes to find time to train with the Portsmouth Triathletes club.

‘I tend to train on my own due to my shift pattern but I can normally find daylight to get out and do some workout,’ she said.

‘But everyone at the club is really supportive and enthusiastic, which is definitely very helpful.’

Stokes admitted her biggest test is to make sure she gets enough rest.

‘I’m a person who will always fill time with something, though, and to fill it with triathlon is brilliant,’ she said.