WHEN Claire Brown first took up triathlons three years ago, she never imagined she would go on to represent her country.

But that’s exactly what the 36-year-old radiographer will be doing when she competes at the ITU World Championship grand final in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Claire, a member of Chester Tri Club, has qualified for the Sprint distance – a 750m open water swim, 20km cycle and 5km run – in the 35 to 39 age group.

She said she first took up triathlons for fun, to keep fit and to help lose weight before her wedding. But she quickly found she loved the thrill of taking part.

She has since taken part in numerous events, culminating in a Half Ironman challenge – a 1.2 mile open water swim, 56-mile ride and 13.1 mile run – in June, an event which also saw her raise £1,500 for the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of a dear friend.

Claire said: “I qualified for the world championship event after finishing the Redcar Sprint Triathlon in 1hr 12mins, a little over a minute behind the fastest woman in my age group.

“Then it transpired I’d also qualified for the Olympic distance – double that of the Sprint – as one of the fastest losers based on my time in this year’s Deva Triathlon in Chester. However, I’ve opted for the Sprint distance in Rotterdam largely due to the time I’ve got available to train.”

Claire, from Great Sutton, Ellesmere Port, is only a few weeks into a new job, working full time as a radiographer at the University of Liverpool Veterinary School’s small animal teaching hospital at Leahurst on the Wirral.

Her training regime includes cycling to and from work every day.

She is being supported by housebuilder Redrow Homes, who have provided a sponsorship package worth £800 to cover her race entry, GB kit and transporting her bike to Rotterdam.

“The entry fee £315 so, without Redrow’s support, it would be very difficult for me to take part,” said Claire, who swam competitively in her younger years.

“It wasn’t me who approached Redrow. A training partner shared a post about me qualifying and needing to find a sponsor, a friend of his saw it and said he would make some enquiries at his work. Luckily Redrow were willing to support me.

“The swim is definitely my strongest discipline and I usually finish in the upper group, while the cycling is my weakest and where I need to focus my training. In the run up to Rotterdam, it’s all about quality not quantity, sharpening up my speed and staying injury free.”

Completing a Half Ironman and qualifying to represent Great Britain have definitely ticked off two ‘bucket list’ items this year for Claire – and she’s also learned that she’s very likely to qualify for next year’s European Championships which will take place in Glasgow.

Claire says she’s happy simply taking part alongside 700 other Team GB members in Rotterdam, but a top four GB placing from the 18 British women competing in her event and age group would be the icing on the cake.

“As for what could happen on the world stage, I don’t even dare dream,” she added. “Just the experience of taking part is enough.”