Racer Liz gunning for glory across Europe
AFTER a super 12 months, athlete Liz McTernan is targeting success at home and abroad in 2013.
The 47-year-old competes in paratriathlon – a type of triathlon for athletes with a physical disability.
McTernan, who is a member of Cleethorpes Athletic Club, was delighted with her performances in 2012 – which included a third-place finish in the Paratriathlon World Championships in New Zealand.
This year she will compete in at least six countries in a sport that has steadily grown in popularity.
The resident of Grimoldby, near Louth, has a spinal cord injury and took part in her first race in 2011. She has progressed a lot in a short space of time and is now one of the best around.
She explained: "I compete on the domestic paratriathlon calendar, but there are very few women who take part in the sport.
"This year I will be competing in France, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands.
"Swimming is my strong point, I had a decent background in that before I started paratriathlon.
"I still have a lot to work on with the wheelchair racing element. There is a lot of technique involved".
Paratriathlon follows the same pattern as standard triathlon and is held over similar courses and distances.
For the 'bike' section, McTernan uses a handcycle whereby the competitor is laid almost right back in an aerodynamic position.
For the 'run' section, she uses a standard racing wheelchair.
There are variations on this depending on the type of disability an athlete has.
As well as her super showing in the World Championships, 2012 saw McTernan finish second female in the Great North Run wheelchair race in one hour, 28 minutes and 21 seconds.
However, she needs to hit a time of one hour 20 minutes to qualify for this year's London Marathon. McTernan hopes to nail that mark at the Silverstone Half Marathon in March.
She will also head to Austria to attempt an ironman triathlon (70.5-mile distance) in September.
"I have a busy schedule and I have got it all mapped out," she said.
"I do not tend to taper. I use a lot of races as training.
"Last year was a great year with many fantastic races – the world championships was the icing on the cake."
McTernan played a full part in the London Paralympics – and was involved on three fronts.
As an athlete, she took part in the swimming trials for Team GB, finishing seventh out of 12.
Strict selection criteria meant only those in the top two, and with a required qualifying time, made it to the Games.
She also volunteered as a Gamesmaker, spending four days helping the goal-ball competition run smoothly.
She capped off her Olympic experience by spending three days in the capital as a spectator.
"It was awesome," she said.
"To see full stadiums throughout the Paralympics was amazing.
"For the first time, I think people saw competitors as athletes first, not just people with disabilities taking part in athletics."
McTernan is currently in winter 'maintenance' training which comprises around four hours on the bike, three hours swimming and three hours in the racing wheelchair.
She will ramp up the volume and intensity as the year progresses, with what she calls "proper training" starting next month.
McTernan acknowledged the role of her club, Cleethorpes AC, in helping her to progress over the last 12 months.
"They are a great club and very supportive," she said.
Anyone who wants to get involved with the sport at Clee AC can contact Andrew Gristwood by email at email@example.com