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Littlehampton triathlete Daphne Belt on her plans for 2019

PUBLISHED: 10:44 14 May 2019

Daphne Belt (Photo by Jim Holden)

Daphne Belt (Photo by Jim Holden)

Jim Holden www.jimholden.co.uk 07590 683036

As her 80th birthday hoves into view, Littlehampton triathlete Daphne Belt isn't planning on slowing down any time soon

The phrases "age is just a number" and "do what you love" could perhaps be considered clichés, but neither could be truer than in the case of 79 year-old triathlete, multi-ITU World Triathlon Champion and Ironman regular and Littlehampton resident Daphne Belt.

"Passing my 50th birthday was the big moment," explains Daphne after completing a 6.30am swim.

"My husband and I joined a gym and decided to get ourselves back into some sort of shape, which we both did."

Daphne believes taking dance classes as a child is the source of her current physical ability: "I think this is responsible for my strong legs and body."

But it's not just general fitness, or even just triathlons; Daphne also takes part in Ironman 70.3 triathlons - that's 70.3 miles, or a half ironman. These mammoth races consist of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run to finish. She finished top of her age group in the 2017 European Championship event in Denmark.

Daphne and her husband Steve - who she helps run an antiques import/export business - often plan these race entries to coincide with their love for travel. "I've been to Japan, Hawaii, Germany, France and all round the world to compete. We don't go to Spain and sit by the pool!"

Daphne's story has reached far and wide. "A lot of young men and women and have come to me at Ironman races and said: 'this is all your fault!'"

But inspiring others is something she takes great pride in. "In my first few years, I was often the only lady in my age groups, now there are dozens, or even hundreds. They often tell me the started doing it because they saw an article on me, or saw my story," she says.

Daphne stresses that age really is just a number and you should not be put down by any doubters, particularly if you're a bit older. "When I started, women didn't even make up ten per cent of the field. You must not be put down. If they do try, be determined to prove them wrong."

Ahead of her 80th birthday in August, Daphne will be taking part in Windsor Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 in Haugesund, Norway in June before the ITU World Triathlon Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland in August.

As she celebrates almost 30 years as a triathlete, Daphne is doing all her races this year for charity, raising money for Chestnut Tree House Arundel and Age UK West Sussex.

You can donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Daphne-Belt and follow Daphne's progress at www.dafbelt.blogspot.co.uk

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