Melanie’s prepared for Middle East challenge

Melanie Ryding gets ready for her trip
Melanie Ryding gets ready for her trip

A triathlete who transformed her life by losing four stone is preparing to journey to Israel for a European championships tournament despite unrest in the region.

Despite some of her colleagues pulling out of next week’s European triathlon Championships in Eilat, Israel, for safety reasons, Melanie Ryding is still determined to travel.

She will be swimming, running and cycling at the tournament as a member of the Great Britain team.

She is hoping to better the 12th place finish she achieved in last year’s tournament in Spain.

Melanie, 40, of Wellingborough, who has been representing Team GB since 2009, said: “It has been an uncertain few weeks, as the recent news saw a rocket attack on Eilat from Egypt, which coincided with the Jewish Passover.

“There were no civilians injured in the attack, but security has been heightened and it has proved a huge challenge for the Great Britain team managers who are working hard to ensure that all the athletes arrive, compete and depart safely.

“Some people considered Israel to be a controversial place to hold a European championships.

“Some people have pulled out for safety reasons – some people thought it wasn’t the safest place in the world to go, but I have decided to go.

“There will be lot of extra safety measures put in place. The way I look at it is that it is a big championships, if the organisers didn’t think it was safe they would have called it off.”

Melanie, who works as a manager for autism at Grange Specialist School in Kempaton, decided to lose the weight in June 2006 after she could no longer fit into her size 16 jeans. She was then inspired to take up the triathlon challenge and she quickly progressed from novice level to representing her country. She has since represented Team GB at championships at European and international levels.

She is currently preparing for next week’s trip and getting in some last-minute training.

She added: “It is spring time in Eilat at the moment, but that does not mean cool weather. This is an unusual championships in many ways as the timing of the event is extremely early in the European triathlon season. Many lakes in Great Britain will not have opened yet due to cold water temperatures. In Eilat, the Red Sea is currently 21.5C in the morning, last I heard, which is just 0.5C cooler than the temperature required for the race to be declared a non-wet suit swim.

“The course appears to be flat, there are reports that Eilat can be windy, but with climbing temperatures to a midday high of about 36C, there’s the incentive to go faster, get that personal best, then get into the shade.

“Last year, I placed 12th in the European championships in Spain, so I am hoping to get into the top 10 this year.”