MyStory: Britain’s AWAD Team
Next in our series of MyStory finalists is Graham Kiff from Great Britain. For the past two months, the International Triathlon Union has invited age-group athletes to send in their stories about their personal journeys to Hamburg for the BG Triathlon World Championships. We were overwhelmed with the response and received many inspirational stories of how triathlon has positively impacted people’s lives. As the event nears, we invite you to read a selection of the ten finalists’ stories. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did. Thanks to all for entering and good luck in Hamburg and future races!!
ITU Media team
By: Graham Kiff (GBR)
My name is Graham Kiff, I am registered blind and the only person in the GB AWAD team this year at the worlds. Originally I entered the London tri for a charity to which I belong to called St. Dunstans, that was my first triathlon. My second triathlon will be Hamburg. In April I went to my local library to get a book with a training plan in as at that point I knew nothing about the sport which has now changed my life so much. I now had a plan to follow so I went down to the local gym, I was only on the treadmill for 3 minutes before I had to get off and take my asthma inhaler so that was also the day I gave up smoking as I was going to do the Olympic distance at London I knew I would also need some swimming lessons. My first lesson was terrible as I only could manage 1 length front crawl.
So the task ahead of me seemed very daunting but I was determined I could do it, and on the 5th of august I completed my first tri in 2hrs 56mins.
Looking on the internet back in April I found the BTF website looking on the sight I found information on the disabled project run by Julian Wills. He put me in touch with a GB coach Barry Craven who guides a blind lady in UK races. Barry was a good help with info and tips and offers of help. On the 10th of June he emailed me to ask if I would be interested in going to Hamburg to be in the AWAD team. That was such a shock to be asked if I wanted to be in a GB team as the last team I was in was my school rugby team about 23 years ago. YES was my answer, but my question was how could I be in a team when I had only started training in April. Well as there was no one else in the frame to go and there still isn’t, this year I am the GB AWAD team.
Now I had decided to go, the next task was to find a guide for the race. I went onto the 220triathlon website chat forum to ask for a guide. I was contacted by the magazine to ask if I wanted them to post a message on the main front page of the website. So on the front page I was, though most people that got in touch were quite far from me I did get an email from USA asking how he could get involved.
I then joined my local tri club at oxford and when I emailed the members asking for help to find a guide, I was overwhelmed with responses so I now had my guide Dennis Murphy.
My next task was funding to get to Hamburg. St. Dunstans kindly gave me a grant for the travel and accommodation. I have an application in with my local council for a grant towards the trip. They are also going to give me free gym membership when my current membership ends.
It was a very proud moment when I got my GB tri suit through the post. Now I know I am definitely going to be there. I am getting nervous already, but hopefully doing London as my first tri will have prepared me for a big event. But I don’t think I will realise what a vast event it will be until I’m out in Hamburg,
Yesterday I had my first experience in proper cycle shoes. Dennis managed to get us a racing tandem to go to the race with. I think you can see how triathlon has changed my life. I have stopped smoking, lost 2 stone, met a lot of wonderful people and my second ever race is going to be on the world stage at Hamburg. Hopefully others will follow in the years to come and one day the GB AWAD team will be a team full of people with a similar story to mine.
The people who have helped me: St. Dunstans, Dennis Murphy, guide Julian Wills, BTF national equity manager Barry Craven, GB coach Malcolm Westwood, team manager, 220 triathlon $magazine, English Federation for disability sport, Oxford Sports partnership, West Oxfordshire district council, GB cycles, my local gym and swimming instructors, the Oxford Mail, BBC radio Oxford, Insight radio, ITV Thames Valley. British Blind Sports.
As you can see from that long list I have had a lot of support and help but it did take quite a bit of investigating for me to get to where I am now. I thank each and everyone of the people i have come into contact with. My life has changed and will never be the same again thanks to the sport of triathlon.