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Anna Gibbons Athlete Ambassador

by Alexandra Parren
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Anna is a multi sport athlete who competes in modern pentathlon as well as triathlon. She talks to Sundried about her varied career in sports.

Have you always been into sport?

I have swum competitively since I can remember but at university I wanted to try something new so took up modern pentathlon. Having gone from one sport to five, the amount of training I did also grew! Before I knew it, I was training 12 times a week and loving it.

How did you first get into triathlon?

When I graduated, I decided it was time to choose a new multi-discipline sport. I lived seconds away from a park, hosting not only a lido but also the local triathlon club so decided to give triathlon a go. With a swimming background and experience of running with pentathlon, cycling was the new challenge. 'Borrowing' an old bike, I soon caught the bug and before long was even commuter cycling in cleats for extra speed!

What has been your favourite race to date and why?

I recently competed at Blenheim triathlon, which has to be one of my all time favourite races. The weather was glorious, the backdrop stunning, and it was great to be out competing again after months of solo training in lockdown. Having clocked many a mile on the bike, it felt so good to be spinning around the (relatively) flat course.

What is your proudest achievement?

Captaining the university pentathlon team and leading the team to some pretty incredible performances. One of my personal highlights was competing at national rankings and winning the horse-riding phase - a particular shock given I usually ended up being eliminated in the ride!

Have you ever had any racing disasters?

In my first triathlon, I turned up without a race belt - this is quite key in triathlon because it allows you to flip your race number from your front to back between the bike and the run. Having managed to locate one last minute, I then forgot to put it in my first transition. Ending up in a total flap, I was stopped by officials just as I left transition. Thankfully, I managed to get it on relatively quickly, having only lost a few seconds and not my place in the competition!

How do you overcome setbacks?

Putting the setback behind me and shifting the focus to something slightly different. That is the joy of multi-discipline sports; if one isn't going your way, just focus on the strengths of the others. Sometimes a little shift in focus is the reset you need.

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

To enjoy competitions! I used to get terrified by the thought of other people judging my sporting ability and performance. Over time, however, I learnt to enjoy the process of competing, coming away from the event and focussing on what well and how to redirect my training efforts for the next event.

What are your goals?

So far I have only done shorter distance triathlons, in the short term I would love to do a half Ironman, and in the longer term a full Ironman. I try not to get too obsessed with numbers so I don't have a specific goal time in mind, as long as I cross the finish line suitably exhausted!

Who inspires you?

Kate French - 2018 Modern Pentathlon World Champion. Her composure and determination while competing is something I really admire. Vicky Holland is another inspiration, again for the attitude she takes in competitions. Despite being the first British female triathlete to gain an Olympic medal, on crossing the finish line she did not celebrate but apologised to her teammate, Non Stanford, for putting her out of medal contention. It is one of those iconic sporting moments that shows the depth of camaraderie in sport.

Closer to home, my friend Darren Hardy, who is always on the look out for the next sporting adventure. His current next plan is 10 Ironman triathlons over 10 days, I plan on joining for (part of!) the fun. His seemingly endless optimism and 'can do' attitude is amazing and something I definitely try to echo.

Why work with Sundried?

I first found out about Sundried through one of the triathletes. I tried their cycling jersey and realised I needed the shorts to complete the look! The shorts were so comfortable and made those long rides a little less sore. The Sundried ethos of sustainable fashion is one that really resonated with me, as is their emphasis on staff wellbeing, so I wanted to show my support of these values by advocating the brand.

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