SUNDERLAND triathlete Michael Lavender will compete for Great Britain in World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, and the European Championships in Geneva after proving himself one of the hottest young prospects in the sport.
The 21-year-old from Tunstall only turned to triathlon after being released by Darlington FC as a youngster.
But he has made up for his inexperience by showing sheer talent, qualifying for both top events so comprehensively that he has the choice of competing in the short form or the standard form of the triathlon at both finals.
Canada will come in the autumn, Geneva next summer, but, for the moment, Michael is just basking in the achievement of becoming British National champion in his age range at Rutland Water near Nottingham.
The athlete, who works for Opus Building Services in Boldon as an apprentice electrical engineer, acknowledges now that the tailing off of his football career at the age of 16 has been the making of him in his new sport.
“I played football for Darlington, but got released and I needed something else to fill that void,” he explained.
“Triathlon has done that and I’ve been surprised how well I’ve done.
“This is the first year I’ve really taken it seriously – last year I dabbled and the year before I was just getting started – but the results have been great.”
Michael hopes to become a full-time athlete in time and is looking for sponsorship as he prepares to take part in the forthcoming international competitions.
He is a member of Nottingham Tricamp, who sponsor him and trains at his local club, Coalfields Race Team in Washington. He also gets backing from Northern Boot Camp and Chia4UK.
“It’s a demanding sport but a very rewarding sport,” said Michael. “I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to do so well in it so far.”
Anyone who wants to sponsor Michael should contact him on 07946 225487.