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Meet Anna Turvey: European Bronze Medallist


Last weekend Anna Turvey won a bronze medal at the European Track Championships in Paris. Having just competed in the Time Trial at the Road World Championships in Doha, she flew to the European Championships to replaced an injured rider, and winning a bronze medal in the Individual Pursuit. Anna has been part of the Cycling Ireland programme for almost a year, having competed previously for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in the Time Trial. The Sunderland born racer has taken the women's time trial scene by storm, having won the National title in June, before going on to compete in the European and World Road Championships this year. Last weekend Anna proved that her time trialling skills transfer to the track, winning Ireland's first female medal at the European Championships in the Individual Pursuit.

What did if feel like to win a European Medal last weekend?

 Ridiculous! I wasn't supposed to be there. I was over in Doha doing the World Road Championships (time trial) and I was planning on taking a break. I intended to join the track team after Christmas. After my race, the Brian asked 'how tired are you?' . I said 'pretty tired, why?' He explained that a couple of the girls could not ride and would I consider going to the European Track Championships. I came up with a load of reasons to argue that I should go!

: 'I'll be crap; I don't want to let you or the others down'

Brian: 'you'll be fine, we'll put you man 4, you can do half lap turns for 3k'

Me: 'I'll make a fool of myself on TV'

Brian: 'No one will know, it’s not on TV!' (This was a lie!)

Me: 'I don't have my track bike'

Brian: 'Ah, we'll just put you on one of our team bikes'

Me: ‘I don't have my track shoes’

Brian: ‘Wear your road shoes’

Me: 'but I haven't trained for it, or practiced'

Brian: 'It’s a good opportunity to start'

I didn't ride well at all in Doha. I hoped this was just due to the heat but when you have a bad ride, irrational thoughts do pop into your head like 'maybe I've lost my form'......'maybe I'm slow now.'
Brian managed to convince me. He told me 'it really doesn't matter how you do, just go for the experience.'

So my flight was changed, so instead of flying home from Doha, I flew overnight on Sunday to Paris. We arrived at the hotel on Monday and after a nap and some lunch, went to the track for the first practice session. The track was really busy with teams from 4 or 5 countries, practicing all different events at the same time. I was terrified as I don't really feel comfortable riding in a bunch, especially on a really busy velodrome! We managed to get a little practice ride when the track was a bit quieter and I felt a little bit better. We practiced again on Tuesday and rode the team pursuit qualifier on Wednesday. We qualified in the top 8 which was a great result as technically we could be a lot better! It was the first time we have ridden together and for 3 of us, our first team pursuit race ever. I'm quite excited about this as I think that our team pursuit could get really good with some more practice.

The individual pursuit was on Friday - sold to me by Brian. I was so nervous and I wasn't confident that I'd be able to start or pace it right. When you mess up in a time trial, you have loads of time to correct your mistake, but on the track, the whole race is under 4 minutes long so any mistakes are a much bigger problem.

I was happy with my qualifying ride (3.36) as it was a massive personal best. My previous personal best was 3.41 before Paris. I hadn't been training for team pursuit or individual pursuit and I hadn't been on the track for ages. I didn't really tell anyone I was doing the track race as I hadn't planned to go and I thought I'd embarrass myself! I was just really surprised to make the finals and I had no idea how I'd go after the qualifying ride........I told myself 'Anna, you are a tester, 3km is nothing!' Getting the medal was amazing!

You are new to the Cycling Ireland programme – but burst onto the scene over here. What is your connection with Ireland?

My Maternal Grandparents lived in Glenties in Donegal. My mam was born in Scotland as her parents were working there when she was born but she moved back to Ireland when she was 2. My parents bought a dilapidated little house in Glenties before they were married and fixed it up. Myself and my brothers and sister spent all of our holidays there when we were growing up and we absolutely loved it as all of our extended family are there. We still love it now, growing up we all said that we would buy a house in Glenties so that we could bring our kids there because we wanted them to have the same amazing childhood that we had there.

How did you get involved with cycling?

I was sporty at school but never particularly serious about anything. I played on the hockey team and I used to do athletics and cross country running. It was more of a social thing but it all fizzled out by the time I was about 15. I did a bit of kickboxing when I was doing my A-levels but when I went to University I didn't do anything sporty. I decided to do a triathlon on a whim when I was 29. I didn't own a bike; in fact I hadn't been on one since I was about 10. I hadn't been in a swimming pool for about 15 years....I joked that I knew how to run and swim and my dad owned a bike so I'm nearly there!

I read an article in a triathlon magazine that encouraged triathletes to do time trials as it is good training for triathlon. So I decided to try some time trials. I finished 2nd in the CTT National 25mile championships in 2013 behind Julia Shaw. There were some guys from the North East at the race who were very excited by this result and they told me I should be a cyclist. I said 'don't be silly, I'm too old!' They pointed out that Julia had 15 years on me and still kicked my ass! Coming 2nd in the CTT national 25 meant that I was eligible to be selected to cycle in the time trial at the Commonwealth Games for Scotland in Glasgow in 2014, so I switched to cycling at the end of 2013. The Scottish coach asked me if I had ever ridden on the velodrome and I said 'No, but I'd love to try'. There were training sessions on Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, so I used my holidays to take Thursday and Friday off work and I drove up to Glasgow from Newcastle on Thursday morning to train on Thursday afternoon, I stayed over in a hotel on the Thursday night and trained again on Friday and then drove back home. I absolutely loved it, as I never thought I'd even get the chance to ride on a velodrome, ever! I think I annoyed everyone else by riding around with a big cheesy grin on my face!

Where are you from/born/live?

I was born in Sunderland. My mam went to College in Sunderland and she met my dad when she was there and stayed. I live in Newcastle now.

Tell us about your job!

I am an Optometrist. I am working as a locum at the moment as this gives me the flexibility I need for racing.

When you growing up did you always want to compete at a high level in sport?

Not at all! I didn't think I was good enough. I used to be in a running club between the ages of about 12 and 15 and I was ok but never one of the best. It didn't occur to me that children all develop at different rates, or that some people were doing extra training, or that I might not be in the right sport. I just went along to the club training on Tuesday and Thursday and did a race at the weekend because I enjoyed it. I was the most rubbish one at sports in my family. When my brothers and sister played tennis, they wouldn't play with me. They made me be the ball girl because I was so rubbish!

I remember watching the 2000 Olympics on TV and seeing the triathlon, and thinking I'd be good at that. I then immediately thought 'oh but I'm too old, it’s too late for me'. I was only 20! When I decided to do a triathlon, it was for fun, not with the intention to compete at a high level. Same with time trials. I didn't think I'd be good enough! I still think that sometimes.

What is your favourite training session, and why?

I do a lot of training on my own so any session where I can convince someone to join in is my favourite. It's just much more fun with company!

Where is your favourite place to cycle? Describe it!

I quite like exploring so new routes and roads are great, especially is its somewhere sunny.

What next for Anna? What are your big goals for 2017?

In short, get better! Take every opportunity that comes long and get as much experience as possible.

I'm going to take a break now, then I'm going to work towards the track world cup in LA which is at the end of February, and hopefully the track World championships which are in Hong Kong in April. After that, road and time trials and hopefully I can target road Worlds again. They are in Norway next year, so no chance of it being 40 degrees!

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