CHILDHOOD memories will be spurring on one competitor in this year’s Ironman UK at Pennington Flash and Bolton.

Tony Lonergan emigrated to Canada but will return to Leigh to run, swim and cycle around the area he grew up in and he is hoping some old friends will be there to cheer him on.

It will be Mr Lonergan’s 10th triathlon after his wife Sharon — who will also take part — inspired him to take on the challenge, despite his fear of swimming.

The 63-year-old said: “I moved to Kelowna, in British Columbia, in 1971 as I saw more opportunities over here than in UK at that time. I have never looked back but I have very fond memories of Leigh.

“My best memories are from my teenage years, going to Leigh Casino and The Garrick Club, Bedford Youth Club, fishing at the Flash and on the canal, and let’s not forget the Good Fridays at Rivington Pike. Some of these places are part of the course and that is the biggest reason I want to do this race.

“I miss the close friends I grew up with and have lost track of some of them, but hopefully some will come and cheer me on.”

Mr and Mrs Lonergan will swim 2.4 miles in Pennington Flash, followed by a 112-mile bike ride before finishing in Bolton town centre after a 26.2-mile run.

When Mrs Lonergan first competed in a triathlon, her husband thought she was mad for wanting to swim in open water — but he soon overcame his fear to join her.

He said: “I was so scared and anxious about the swim in my first triathlon, but when I completed it I was probably the happiest guy on the planet.

“I had done something I never imagined I could and it felt fantastic.”

The event will be held on July 20.