AT the age of 63, grandmother Mary White has become a world champion in one of the hardest physical disciplines in sport.
She has just won the World Quadrathlon Championships in the over-60s age-group in Lincolnshire, swim-ming 1,500 metres in open water, then kayaking for seven kilometres, followed by a 36km cycle ride and a 10km run. And all of that just two years after having knee replacement surgery.
Mrs White, from Heaton, comes from a sporty family of seven children.
Her husband, retired civil servant Andrew, and children Stuart and Jenny, have given her strong support and she says that training two or three times a week at the Bolton Arena gym where she also takes part in spinning and Pilates’ classes has “really helped”.
The retired teacher who taught at Rivington and Blackrod High School before going to Holy Cross College in Bury, has a twin sister, Margaret, and both were always active in various sports.
She played squash and badminton before knee problems prompted her interest in running.
She eventually needed a knee replacement operation two years ago.
“It was a complete success,” she said.
Mrs White joined Horwich Harriers and became successful in fell-running before she took up cycling, thanks to her husband, and kayaking, thanks to her brother John who is a kayaking coach in Macclesfield.
Fellow competitors at fell-running encouraged Mrs White and her twin, who lives in Knutsford, to take part in the World Quadrathlon Championships.
“The British Quadrathlon Association wanted as many British competitors as possible for the World Championships because they were being held for the first time in the UK,” explained Mrs White.
She embarked on a regular training regime last December, helped by gym staff at Bolton Arena.
This year, the sisters took part in triathlons, including the Salford Triathlon, as well as concentrating on their kayaking, running and cycling.
The World Champ-ionships attracted competitors from all over the world.
Mrs White was determined to do well and “really went for it”, especially in the cycling. “I know I can always do a 10k run so I wanted to get ahead as much as possible,” she said.
Her strategy paid off. She took first place, with her sister coming second for a real family celebration.
Mrs White said: “I like to have a different challenge each year. It’s just something I enjoy.”