British Triathlon Celebrates 25th Anniversary
On Saturday 11 December 1982, the British Triathlon Association was formed at a meeting at the Mall Heath Club in Reading, which 22 people attended. The initiative for this came from Mike Ellis, a former modern pentathlete, who upon leaving the Navy, took up cycling and heard about the Hawaii Ironman event. He had gathered together some pentathletes and swimmers to complete in 1982 Nice Triathlon, and then set up the first meeting of interested parties to form the Association a mere 25 years ago. We have certainly travelled a long way since then.
The first ever official British Triathlon National Championships were held on 5 June 1983. The National Short Course was held at Kirton Farm, near Reading. It was the first mass triathlon event in Britain, with 200 starters. The event consisted of a mile swim (wetsuits were not allowed), a 40 mile bike ride and a 13 mile run. The most famous name on the start line that day was a certain Sarah Springman, but some of the other fools who completed the event who are still around include Mark Kleanthous, Julia Kendall (first woman), Graham Matthews, Paul Jurczuk and Dave Bellingham. The winner was Jim Wood, Britain’s leading biathlete.
The long course that year as a mile swim, 65 mile bike and 15 mile run held in the very chilly Kelder Reservoir, again with no wetsuits allowed. The race was won by Josie May and Steve Russell, who went on to finish 12th at Nice, where Sarah Springman finished 7th. Sarah’s arrival as a leading triathlete was just the first phase of her remarkable influence on the sport over the past 25 years; she is now the President of the British Triathlon Federation.
A Brief History of Tri: 25 Year Timeline
1982 BTA founded on 11th December in Reading
1983 First National Champs held on 5th June with 200 starters
1984 European Triathlon Union formed
1985 First BTA AGM, Sarah Springman wins European Champs
1986 Triathlon embroiled in wetsuit legality debate – should they be allowed?
1987 The first London Triathlon held in Docklands
1988 BTA take on first full-time employee
1989 International Triathlon Union formed in Avignon.
1990 Britain’s first Ironman race held in Cirencester
1991 The start of the glory years for British Triathlon…
1992 Simon Lessing & Spencer Smith win Senior & Junior World Champs
1993 Manchester holds World Champs. British one-two for Smith & Lessing
1994 Spencer Smith retains his World title in Wellington
1995 Simon Lessing wins the World Championships in Cancun
1996 Lessing retains his World title in Cleveland, USA
1997 Wembley born Michelle Dillon switches nationality from Aussie to Brit
1998 Lessing and Tim Don win World Senior and Junior titles in Lausanne
1999 Anneliese Heard wins World Junior Champs aged 16 in Montreal
2000 First Olympic Games Triathlon in Sydney
2001 Jodie Swallow breaks through with bronze at Junior World Champs
2002 Commonwealth Games in Salford. Leanda Cave wins World Champs
2003 Salford stages a leg of the World Cup for the first time
2004 Michelle Dillon finishes sixth at Athens Olympic Games Triathlon
2005 London awarded Olympic Games. Proposed triathlon in Hyde Park
2006 Don, Clarke and Brownlee sweep men’s World titles in Lausanne
2007 Modernisation of British Triathlon Association into Home Nations