Science teacher Tom Morris had a ‘eureka moment’ when he turned to triathlon four years ago.
For now the 28-year-old, from Balby, can lay claim to being a European champion in his chosen field.
Morris represented Great Britain at the European Triathlon Union (ETU) Sprint Distance Triathlon European Championships in Lisbon in May.
And, slightly unexpectedly, the Hayfield School teacher went right to the top of his class in his age group (25-29) to return home with the gold medal.
Morris clocked a time of 01:03:23 to narrowly hold off fellow Brits David Chesterman (01:03:33) and Stephen Wilson (01:03:48).
He completed the 750m swim in 11:21, the 20km bike ride in 33:23 and 5km run in 17:31.
“It was an incredible achievement for me as I was hoping I could get in the top ten and maybe top three of the Brits taking part,” said Morris.
“When I crossed the line I knew I had performed well but I didn’t even realise I’d won as everyone finishes in stages.
“I had to phone home to get my family to check online! It was an incredible feeling.
“This year has really surpassed my expectations,” he added.
“I began by winning my age group at Clumber Park Duathlon, then at Southwell triathlon. I finished second overall at the University of Nottingham triathlon and also won a super mile sprint put on by Curly’s Athletes events.
“This all pointed to a good season for me which then became an unforgettable one in Lisbon.”
Morris turned to triathlon after injuring his knee playing football and was looking for other ways to regain his fitness.
He came across Doncaster Triathlon Club and met Jonathan Frary from Blizard Physiotherapy and sports performance clinic who began to coach him and he went from strength-to-strength in his new sport.
“The team at Blizard have really helped me focus my training and provided me with some top class physio services and kit,” said Morris.
“Doing triathlons is a big commitment, I have to train at least 16 hours a week and it means a lot of 5am starts to get a training session in before work. I have a very understanding girlfriend!
“I used to do a lot of running but I need a target and something to work towards, so I decided to do a triathlon.
“Once I met Jonathan he took me under his wing and I got the bug. It gave my training a structure and also reaching GB-standard is quite accessible.
“I’d also like to say a massive thanks to the support given to me by Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust (DCLT),” he added.
“Being part of TASS (Talented Athlete Support Scheme) has definitely made training more accessible for me and really helped me get to where I am now. I use Dearne Valley Leisure Centre for my early morning swims and can also use the gym at the Dome when needed. It has made such a difference.”
Jon Whiteley, head of community development at DCLT, said: “Tom is an extremely talented athlete which was why he was accepted on our TASS scheme. Everyone here at DCLT is delighted that he has done so well this season and has become the European champion, it’s a fantastic honour for him. We wish him all the best with the rest of his training and performances this year.”
The TASS scheme was introduced by DCLT in 2012 in a bid to support local athletes who represent Great Britain at national or international level. For more information visit www.dclt.co.uk.