Hi, my name is Toby Austin and on Sunday the 1st December I competed in the national biathlon championships, part of the modern pentathlon, at Tudor Grange leisure centre, Solihull.
It all started about six weeks ago when my school, Hereford Cathedral School, were advertising a biathlon consisting of a 200m swim and a 1 mile run (4 laps of a track). As I have had a small amount of experience in triathlons, I thought it would be relatively similar and I should definitely give it a go. With very little swimming experience and the fierce opposition of the under 17 boys class lined up on the blocks I almost knew straight away that I was going to be in for a beating right from the off. I came last with a time of 3 minutes 16 seconds. However in the run I won the under 17s quite convincingly with a time of 5 minutes and 5 seconds. These two times put me in a position of 3rd out of 3 and meant I qualified for the nationals about 6 weeks later. From that moment on I was motivated to massively improve my swimming, under threat from my famous father, if I was going to even stand a chance of not coming last at nationals.
I have now been swimming three times a week, including Tuesday morning at 6am, with the Hereford swim club which goes onto total up to about 5 hours a week. This then lead to me taking 17 seconds off my PB at the nationals with a time of 2:59. However the presence of many GB juniors, with some of the leaders getting a time of 1:57 for a 200m swim, meant that I still came in last place. The run seemed to look a little more promising with me getting a time of 5:06 (however the winner did 4:40) for a mile and a position of 4th place which I was very pleased with. This meant that overall I finished 14th place out of 16 under 17 boys which I was not too disappointed about.
I am going to carry on with my swimming in the hope to compete in the national schools biathlon in April located at the London aquatic centre (where the Olympics were held) and possibly do some triathlons in the summer. After competing in a few races for Croft last year, I hope to run more regularly with after Christmas once the school rugby season is over.