Six weeks ago, eight-year-old Sarah-Michelle Clear lined up to take part in her first triathlon, unaware of the hidden talent she was about to discover. Now, she hopes to write the latest chapter of her success story as she prepares to race at London 2012 Olympic venue Dorney Lake this weekend.
Having always been a strong swimmer, Sarah-Michelle decided to add cycling and running into the mix and start competing in triathlon events, no doubt unexpecting of the rocket rise to glory that was about to unfold.
The St Andrew’s Prep pupil, who was awarded the Year Three Cup for swimming earlier this week, entered her first triathlon on May 19 before taking part in the Kilometre Run in Bexhill, both of which proved to be good practice for the main event.
Just a few weeks later, on June, 9 she began her journey, competing in the first of four races in the South East Junior Triathlon Series.
Here, in Southampton, she was the first-placed girl with a best overall time, triumphing over a field of both boys and girls, many of whom were one or two years her senior.
Next up was the Trinity Triathlon in Croydon - event two of the Junior Series - where she was the second-placed female and fifth overall out of a field of 38.
Both those results, and a fifth-place finish out of 135 at a triathlon event in Henley, leaves her well-placed and confident ahead of the remaining two events in the series, the next of which is in Windsor at infamous Olmpic venue Dorney Lake on Sunday.
The series will culminate in Andover on July, 21.
Sarah-Michelle’s sudden success hasn’t just come overnight, though, and is the result of plenty of hard work, with the young girl having a series of coaches to help her work on each of the three aspects of the triathlon.
She splits her training time between the David Lloyd Centre, Sussex University as part of the Bodyworks team and Eastbourne Sports Park, where Pedal Power assist with cycling training.
She swims four times a week, cycles once and runs twice under the guidance of triathlon mentor and swimming coach Paul Standen-Payne.
All the time and effort is worth it to see the progress Sarah-Michelle has made over such a short space of time.
Just earlier this week, she took on her biggest challenge yet - a triathlon at Hever Castle in Kent that consisted of her first ever open water swim.
The swim, in a lake that had a temperature of just 19 degrees, was 100m, followed by a 4,000m cycle ride through woodland fields and tracks, before finishing with a 1,300m run - the latter two distances being the longest she’s ever competed in.
Sarah-Michelle, who turns nine in January, finished a respectable 12th overall and fifth female in a field filled with many experienced and much older children.
This is just the beginning of Sarah-Michelle’s exciting journey. After the third Series event in Dorney Lake this weekend, she will compete in Rye, Ringmer, Crowborough and even Chantilly, France.
If what Sarah-Michelle’s achieved in the past six weeks is anything to go by, the world of triathlon should watch this space, for a potential new star is on the rise.