A nurse who says she could “barely catch a bus” without getting out of breath five years ago is set to compete for Great Britain at the European Triathlon Championships.
Myka Heard, a member of the St Helens Tri Club, will compete for Great Britain in the Lisbon-based championships in May.
The 49-year-old achieved the British qualification time at last year’s Southport Marine Lake Triathlon.
She qualified in her age group as the first reserve for the sprint distance race.
Myka, who cares for patients in the intensive care unit at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, will be part of a 20-strong team and said she’s still amazed by the call-up.
“Buzzing doesn’t explain it,” she said,
“To receive my first international selection at 49 is a surreal feeling, especially when you consider that I could barely run to catch a bus four or five years ago.”
Myka explained that her journey to GB call-up started back in 2011 when she was challenged by her two sons to run a marathon.
“We were sat at home watching a film about a marathon runner, and out of the blue my sons said, ‘you could do that mum’.
“Despite having done no real sport for twenty years, I signed up to the Liverpool Marathon there and then and set my mind on getting fit.
“Although I managed to finish the marathon, I really struggled. But even so I still enjoyed the experience and was determined to improve so I joined a weekly running club.”
However it wasn’t until a couple of years later that Myka fell into triathlon almost by chance.
She said: “After I got injured during the London Marathon in 2014, I decided to start swimming to take the pressure of my knees and hips. I really enjoyed being out in the pool and it slowly dawned on me that I might be able to combine this new found love of running and swimming.
“I booked into a triathlon in Wirral and whilst I thought I would be happy to complete the event, I shocked myself by winning the 40-50 year old age category.
“Since then I’ve started taking things much more seriously and discipline myself to go out training before or after work 10-11 times each week.”
Myka said she cannot wait to get to Lisbon and compete against the best in Europe.
She added: “People sometimes glaze over a bit when you talk about your sport, but when you mention Great Britain they usually think ‘wow, that’s incredible’.
“The thought of pulling on the GB kit and representing my country makes me enormously proud and I hope to perform to the best of my ability on the day.
“However I couldn't have done this without the fantastic support of my two sons, Che and Oscar, my training clubs and some incredible training partners and my dedicated coaches. My colleagues at the hospital have also been so supportive and I know they’ll all be cheering me on come race day!”
“But whatever happens in May, I’d love people to see that if a 49-year-old single mum, working full time, can get fit and achieve new goals then it is possible for anyone.”
If any local companies or individuals are interested in sponsoring Myka to help cover the costs of competing for Great Britain they should contact communications team at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital – 0151 600 1423 or firstname.lastname@example.org