Nene Valley Harriers triathlete Abi Schofield (25) is putting all distractions aside as the countdown quickens towards another outing on the world stage.
Abi, a special needs teacher and coach formerly based in Market Deeping, is in Great Britain’s women’s 25-29 age group squad for the World Standard Distance Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, in mid-September.
Having come 12th in her first-ever European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Switzerland last July, Abi has called on the help of two-time world duathlon champion Claire Steels (29) in preparation for her own date with global sporting destiny in two months’ time.
Abi said: “Claire is a massive motivation because she makes me see what I’m working towards and she’s a big reminder of why I do the sport.
“Claire makes training and racing a lot more real and she gives me a lot of reassurance.”
Since April, Abi has been guided by Claire’s coach Mark Griffin in improving her cycling and swimming elements ahead of the World Championships where the triathlon will consist of a 1.5 km swim in the Caribbean Sea, followed by a 40 km bike ride and 10kn run.
Abi said: “I’m concentrating on getting everything sharpened up, including my transitions, and getting faster in training.
“Since I started working with Mark in April, my training has become very, very personal to me and my life.
“Overall, Mark has made my bike power a lot better, my times have got a lot faster and I’m enjoying it a lot more.
“Things have been different since I dropped marathon running and my times aren’t as fast for that part of the triathlon.
I love the challenge and the excitement of the three disciplines, whilst inspiring others too, and I’m progressing in the sport with the support of my club and coachNene Valley Harriers triathlete Abi Schofield (25)
“But I’ve been doing a lot more open water swimming which I really enjoy.”
Having watched housemate Claire Steels come back from Germany with a silver medal in April’s European Sprint Duathlon Championships and then go one one better at the World Standard Distance Championships in Spain, Abi has grown even more excited about triathlon than she was before.
“Triathlon is a huge part of my life and I train daily alongside my job as a special needs teacher and coach,” Abi said.
“I love the challenge and the excitement of the three disciplines, whilst inspiring others too and, at 25, I’m progressing in the sport with the support of my club and coach.
“With Mark, as well as a new focus and living with Claire who is my best friend, housemate and training buddy, I feel as if I’m ready to give triathlon my best this season.”
But the financial commitment of getting to Mexico has led Abi to rule out trying to qualify for international competition next season.
“Funding has been a huge pressure and with the entry fee, travel expenses and GB kit, I’ll have to find about £2,000 for Mexico,” Abi said.
“I’ve had a few, small sponsors but people underestimate how hard you have to work to pay for it.
“On top of that is my teaching as well which can be very energetic, leaving me lacking in energy.
“But the thrill of qualifying for Mexico is great and hopefully other girls will see that you can pick up sport, rather than give yourself an expiry date.”
No one knows international triathlete Abi Schofield better than her best friend, housemate and training partner Claire Steels.
Therefore, a ringing endorsement from the two-time World Age Group Duathlon Champion (sprint then standard distance) is worth the cost of the Team GB kit alone.
Claire said: “Abi is an incredibly dedicated athlete who juggles working as an SEN (special educational needs) teacher with getting as much training in as possible.
“This is on top of trying to have some free time to relax which is tough for Abi.
“But she has continued to train so hard and has noticed a huge improvement in her cycling in recent weeks - I’ve noticed it too.
“So much so that she actually enjoys the bike now.
“Abi is a real inspiration to those around her, especially the children she teaches and coaches.
“I know that she loves seeing them enjoying their sport, progressing and developing into fine, young athletes.
“I have no doubt that Abi will do herself, and all of us, proud in Mexico and will continue to inspire and show us just how much is possible for anyone prepared to give it their all.”
To support Abi in fundraising for the World Championships, visit https://www.gofundme.com/27c6sdw