MY LIGHT BULB MOMENT
Triathlon company founder Jo Lewis
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.