One of the University of Stirling’s newest sport scholars, Cameron Richardson, has made a blistering start to his university career as he became world junior duathlon champion at the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Penticton, Canada.
Taking on the world’s best young athletes, 19 year-old Richardson, who is due to start an accountancy degree in the new term, led from the front during the race.
The event consisted of a 5km run, 20km cycle and 2.5km run, which the young Stirling Triathlon Club athlete won in a time of 58 minutes and 7 seconds. His first success on the world stage is still sinking in.
He said: “I can’t even put it in to words yet, it’s still not really sunk in. I couldn’t honestly comprehend it and I’m still in disbelief!
“I took the first run out pretty fast then slowed it down and controlled it. I could see a few guys were suffering going into the second lap, so I tried to pick up the pace again and ended up dropping a few of the good cyclists. Then I just attacked going into transition and managed to open a bit of a gap on the bike.”
Despite his race plan resulting in the gold medal, it wasn’t all plain-sailing for Richardson as a misplaced helmet caught the attention of the marshals.
“I actually ended up with a ten second time penalty because I missed the box where you’re supposed to put your helmet during transition and didn’t realise before continuing on the run, so was pulled up and had to serve a standstill penalty. However, it gave me a chance to look back and see I had a substantial gap between me and the chasers.”
Originally from Cumbernauld, Richardson left school a year early to join the Triathlon Scotland High Performance Centre at the University of Stirling, which acts as a British Triathlon satellite training centre for elite competitors. As he starts his degree, Richardson will also become part of the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and he’s confident he made the right the choice.
“I’d been running in my local club for five or six years and it got to a point where I was struggling to get much better so felt a change of scenery was required and I decided to come to Stirling.
“It’s just an amazing university. The facilities are world-class with the National Swimming Academy, and a really good track, as well as there being brilliant trails and hills in the surrounding area.
“As well as training with the university group, my main training partner is Grant Sheldon who races on the World Series circuit. Grant’s a world-class athlete and I feel working with him gives me an extra edge over the guys I race because I’m always chasing in training.
“Since joining the programme, I’ve gradually progressed from 10 hours a week of training to roughly 30 and completely changed my strength and conditioning programme which has led to a dramatic improvement in both my running and cycling. The next step is to get my swim sorted!”
The University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme is one of the largest high performance sports programmes in the UK and has supported more than 700 student athletes since its inception in 1981. Working closely with dedicated high performance coaches and support staff, Stirling athletes enjoy regular success at national and international competitions, including the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.