MY LIGHT BULB MO­MENT

Triathlon com­pany founder Jo Lewis

Irish Daily Mail - - Femail Magazine - Interview by EMMA ROWLEY

JO LEWIS, 62, is the co-founder of Tri50, which trains ma­ture ath­letes for triathlons. She lives with her part­ner Ted, who is re­tired, and has two adult sons. I’D AL­WAYS said to my­self, I hope I stay fit. When I was grow­ing up, my mum was al­ways so un­well.

She had var­i­ous health prob­lems and be­came an al­co­holic, while my fa­ther, a doc­tor, tried to keep the fam­ily to­gether. When she died at 60 of a cere­bral haem­or­rhage, she was about to start kid­ney dial­y­sis and had very high blood pres­sure.

I vowed that I would never fol­low her into hospi­tal — and I never have, apart from when I had my two boys.

When they were young, I played squash and ten­nis, as well as swim­ming and run­ning, and worked as a swim­ming coach. I’ve al­ways used ex­er­cise to give me the en­ergy I want in life.

Aged 47, I had my fastest times as a run­ner, but my fa­ther told me: ‘It’s not so good for those joints.’

I got a bike, and started dab­bling in triathlons. I loved it. With triathlon’s three sports (swim­ming, cy­cling and run­ning), you can’t be bored.

Now, I com­pete for Great Bri­tain as a ma­ture ath­lete. I was world cham­pion in 2006 in aquathlon (swim­ming and run­ning) in the 50 to 54 age group. My mar­riage broke up when I was 50 and triathlon was an es­cape — thank­fully to­day I have a good re­la­tion­ship with my ex.

At the same time, I thought: ‘I’d better be­come a qual­i­fied triathlon coach.’ As an ath­lete, I wanted to be the best I could be and share my skills with others.

My light bulb mo­ment came when I was away at a train­ing camp in 2010. I shared a room with a lady I’d known for a long time.

One morn­ing, I said: ‘All too of­ten, peo­ple say, “We’re too old for this”. No, we’re not! There’s a niche here. How about we set up a busi­ness nur­tur­ing ma­ture ath­letes?’

And so Tri50 was born. We coach and or­gan­ise train­ing week­ends and warm-weather camps. These days, I en­joy shar­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence with as­pir­ing ath­letes more than my podium fin­ishes.

When I was 60, my sons and I cy­cled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. My ex-hus­band was our sup­port crew for half the trip, so it was fam­ily ori­en­tated and we had so much fun.

That was one of the high­lights of my ath­letic ca­reer.

But who knows what I’ll do when I’m 70? I’ve made the 60 mile­stone, and I’m de­ter­mined to make the 70, and the 80, with­out trips to the hospi­tal! Any­thing is pos­si­ble.

tri50.co.uk

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