A teenager who was part of a cadet team to swim the English Channel last year has just qualified for the Great Britain Under-20s sprint triathlon team less than a year after taking up the sport.
After impressing in her first four triathlons, Bourne Academy pupil Kayleigh Adams, 18, has qualified for the World Championships being held in Edmonton, Canada, on August 29.
Adams is no stranger to a physical challenge - last summer she was a part of a team of Lincolnshire Army Cadets to swim the English Channel in relay.
Now she has taken that drive into the arena of competitive sports and has the world at her feet.
Sport has always been a part of Adams’ life from a young age, joining Deepings Swimming club at the age of 13.
However, in 2010 she watched her mum Clare Wookey compete in her first triathlon to raise money for a local charity and thought that it was something that she would like to try.
Adams competed in her first triathlon at Woodhall Spa in July 2013. The event saw her do a 400m swim in an outdoor pool, a 24km bike ride followed by a 5km run. Remarkably, she came second in her age group despite only getting on a bike in anger just a few weeks before.
At that point she was such a novice that she did not even know how to change gears on the bike.
In September, she went one better and won her age group in the Southwell Tri.
Over the winter, Adams worked on her cycling skills and after she was given a road bike for Christmas she took her abilities to new levels
In January, under the direction of Spalding Triathlon Club and coach Judith Brand from Dr J Coaching and Bike Fitting, her training was given a tweak to take her to the next level.
But Adams’ next outing at Lincoln in April did not go to plan and up against British standard athletes she mentally struggled with the competition.
But undeterred, the Bourne cadet entered the British Championships at Eton Dorney in May which was her first official sprint distances race, completing a 750m open water swim, a 20km bike and a 5km run.
A fine performance saw Adams finish sixth in her age group in the UK in just her fourth official race.
Following her strong performances, Adams set her sights on qualifying for the World Championships and entered herself into two qualifying events. The first was at the rowing lake at Nottingham Holme Pierrepont.
On a hot day, the Bourne youngster had the race of her life. She completed the 750m open water swim in just over 11 minutes, the 20km bike ride in 34 minutes and the 5km run in just over 22 minutes to complete the course in 1:10.12 to come sixth in her age group but third of those that were trying to qualify for the event in Canada.
Adams said: “I woke up early on the day of qualifying as I was so nervous.
“A total of 20 athletes can go to the World Championships provided they are within 15 per cent of their qualifying group’s winning time so I knew the pressure was on.
“I’m pleased to say I put all my training to good use on the day of qualifying, literally completing the best race of my life.”
On June 3, the official results were posted and Adams was confirmed as the third qualifier from the race for the World Championships.
Adams added: “I turned 18 years old on June 4, the day after the news was announced officially that I had secured my place in the line-up to go to Canada this summer. It really was the best present I could ask for as I’ve worked really hard so words cannot express how over-the-moon I was to get this great news.
“Our next step is to get the GB kit ordered and continue training ahead of my trip.
“I am also going to be doing some fundraising to get sufficient sponsorship to get to Canada in August as we have to fund this ourselves.”
Adams’ proud mum Clare, who is also an adult volunteer with Lincolnshire ACF, said: “To watch someone work so hard and be so driven to succeed is a real pleasure.
“Words cannot express how proud I am of her and her achievements in her short life. She has accomplished so much and I cannot wait to see just how far she can go in the world of triathlon.”