Kent Sport physiotherapist assists at U23 European Triathlon Championship

In addition to managing the Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic, Vicky Annis keeps very busy in her spare time travelling around the world to share her expertise and provide support at major sporting events. Last weekend, Vicky found herself at the U23 European Triathlon Championships that took place in Penza, Russia. Vicky describes her experience:

In the mens U23 race, Great Britain won their first gold medal. Gordon Benson exited the water high up the field and took charge of the lead bike back. He was often at the front of the pack making sure the group kept the effort high particularly when climbing the hill on the eight lap course. Even during the section of the bike course where there was a strong prevailing head wind, Gordon dominated the pack. It was a great pleasure to see Gordon cross the finish line to take his first major triathlon title, particularly when he is from Leeds in Yorkshire, which is where I worked prior to my move to the University of Kent.

People often ask the question, what does a physiotherapist do during a trip like this? When you are away, the staff all work together and you often help out in other areas, not just physiotherapy. Additional tasks include helping with the logistics at airports because bike boxes and physiotherapy beds can often result in debates at the check in desks! Ensuring athletes have their passports and have food and drink are very important. The trip had younger athletes competing in the youth relay. They were all brilliant at dealing with airport delays and the food that was provided, which meant I had less to do with regards to supporting the coaches. Meetings are held pre-race to discuss where each member of staff will stand on the course, what information the athletes may want relaying to them and checking the penalty box.

In addition, the physiotherapist needs to check that the athletes are physically prepared. Massage post-flight can be beneficial to some athletes, dealing with any niggles or injuries that are sustained during the days before the race. Competition day first aid is also provided as needed. Many of the athletes did heat chamber sessions in preparation; however, the weather we had left behind in the UK was far nicer!! On race day, the air temperature was around 13 degrees on both days and dropped during the afternoon. Post-race we were with the athletes within seconds of them finishing to provide them with their clothing and blankets. At this venue, the finish line was approximately 200m from the hotel so the athletes could get warm very easily.

The Youth Relays were on the second day and there were three members in each team. The girls raced first and dominated from the start. The first athlete swims 250m, cycles 10km, runs 1500m and then tags their team member. The youth boys also did exceptionally well and finished in second place behind the Russian team. There was a herd of cows in the road during this race and two of the boys had to stop as they couldn’t get around them. Even after a dead stop and start on the bike, they remained calm and completed the race very well. There are only so many eventualities that you can plan for and cows on a closed road is a new one for me!

To come away with gold medals in two events and a silver medal is a great team performance; and Helen Jenkins also continued the successful weekend with a silver medal in the Chicago World Triathlon Series event. The youth boys were so proud, they even wore their medals on our return journey to the UK. There was a great team spirit and Gordon was constantly speaking to the younger athletes and setting an example that I am certain they will aspire to.

The next trip Vicky has with British Triathlon is the Stockholm World Triathlon Series event at the end of the summer. Until then, the Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic will be open as normal, with evening appointments available on a Monday. Other evenings are available based upon request. To make an enquiry please telephone 01227 824375 or email on

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