A Telford athlete representing Great Britain has become a double European Champion in her age group in two different competitions recently.
In her very first competition representing Team GB, local girl Hannah Dodwell aged 24 from Telford, won her first Gold Medal in the 2018 European Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships held in Glasgow this August; she completed this race in a time of 1 hour and 13 minutes, a fast time for a 750m swim, 20Km cycle and 5Km run. At the end of October, she travelled to Ibiza for her second outing as a Team GB athlete, she again came home with a European gold medal; this time in the Aquathlon which consists of a 1km swim followed by a 5km run completed in a time of just over 34 minutes.
When asked what winning her first race meant to her Hannah said: “I was in shock, I never believed that for my first race at European level I would be placed, let alone win! The reality of my achievement didn’t sink in until I was stepping on to the podium to receive my medal.”
Hannah grew up in Telford and attended Idsall School in Shifnal staying there for her 6th Form studies. Always a keen athlete, her passion was for competitive swimming and she was a dedicated member of Oakengates Amateur Swimming Club and Wrekin College Swimming Club. Keen to pass on her experience and knowledge she quickly qualified as a Level 1 Swimming Coach and Level 2 Swimming Teacher to commence instructing at her swimming club. Enjoying the pool environment so much she also qualified as a lifeguard and worked at both the Hadley Learning Community swimming pool as well as some of the Telford and Wrekin Council’s Leisure Centres.
She is now works full-time as an Air Traffic Control Officer in the Royal Air Force and for the first time since joining the RAF she is based close to home at RAF Shawbury. It may be coincidental, but completing a triathlon was one of the things she had on her bucket list for her life challenges; easily achieved and still in high spirits she was hooked. Hannah relished the challenges of this sport merging her favourite swimming with running and cycling; working on her cycling ability was the biggest learning curve, having never owned a road bike or done it competitively before. Her training had to take a breather whilst she completed her RAF training at RAF Cranwell but being the motivated and driven person and following a strict training regime, she was determined to quickly get back in to it.
Hannah is extremely modest and puts her success down to the support she has received over the years. She said: “This has been a truly amazing first Team GB season and I can’t thank people enough for their continuous support. The RAF Central Fund for awarding me a Sports Grant, which funded me to take part in these competitions, including my travel and accommodation expenditure as well as contributing towards my GB Tri-suit. Also, thanks to RAF Triathlon Association and the RAF Shawbury Physical Education Flight team who made me believe in myself and gave me confidence to perform and enjoy the experiences. And finally, RAF Shawbury Operations Wing for granting me the time off to compete at such prestigious competitions to represent not only myself but the RAF and of course GB.”
Hannah is now looking forward to competing next year, having pre-qualified she is aiming to compete at the World and European Championships for Sprint Triathlon and Aquathlon. Her goal for next year is to compete in an Elite event. She has already established that Strength Training is going to be heavily implemented into her training programme as well as the requirement to get a personal Coach to develop and give her the edge come next season. She has found that the skills needed to compete in her sport, strength, self-determination and resilience mirror those in her military career and the reason that the RAF firmly believe that sport and military careers complement each other perfectly.