AN optician has her eyes on the prize as she flies the flag for Sunderland at the Commonwealth Games.
Anna Turvey, 34, from Ashbrooke, only took up cycling competitively last summer – and now she’s representing Scotland on one of the world’s greatest sporting stages.
She will take to the saddle in Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on Friday to test her mettle against some of the most successful athletes in the field.
Hundreds of athletes from across the Commonwealth nations have descended on the Scottish city for the 2014 games which begin tomorrow.
Anna, whose mum Anne hails from Scotland, said: “This is such an unexpected opportunity for me, but it’s an amazing experience. If someone said six months ago that I would be competing in the Commonwealth Games, I would have laughed at them.
“It’s something I’ve always watched on the television and wanted to be part of, but it’s something I never thought I’d actually do, especially at my age, which is quite old for an athlete.” The former St Anthony’s pupil’s road to the prestigious games began five years ago when she decided to try her hand at triathlons as an alternative to the gym.
Little did she realise she would turn out to be a natural iron woman, winning British national titles in triathlon and duathlon and coming fourth in the world championships.
Last year, she took part in some road time trial cycle races as part of her triathlon training, only to end up making selection criteria times for the Commonwealth Games.
“I did better than I thought I’d do,” she said. “I ended up doing the British elite time trial last summer which included world champions such as Joanna Rowsell. I ended up coming eighth and I wasn’t even doing much cycling at that point.”
Spurred on by encouragement from others, she decided to ditch the running and swimming training – the other two triathlon disciplines – to focus solely on cycling.
At that point she had only cycled in road time trials, but at a meeting with Scottish Cycling, they encouraged her to try the velodrome track – and again she excelled.
After a series of training sessions which included competing in the Scottish national championships, she is now one of only two Scottish Cycling team members to make the cut for Friday’s Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit. She will also compete in the Women’s Road Time Trial on July 31.
Anna has had to cut down her hours as an optometrist after throwing herself into a tough training regime, but says she’d love to cycle professionally one day.
“I feel like this is just the beginning of the journey for me. It’s difficult for female cyclists as there aren’t the opportunities that there are in male cycling. Nobody does this for the money, but you need to be able to support yourself.
“But it’s something I’d love to do if the opportunity arises.”