SWINDON Town’s yoga instructor has won the chance to represent England at the Duathlon World Championships in Spain. Now she’s hopeful her achievements will give more novices in the town the encouragement they need to take up the sport.

Claire Parnell, who was drafted in by the Robins this season to help the players improve their flexibility, has qualified to run and cycle for her country in June’s event in Pontevedra following a recent victory at the Clumber Park duathlon in Nottingham.

The 37-year-old personal trainer, who is based in Old Walcot, has only been involved in duathlon for three years but he’s already making huge strides and she isn’t too daunted by the prospect of facing the best the world has to offer in her 35-39 age group category.

Parnell told the Advertiser: “I’m really proud - to represent my country is quite a privilege so I’m really pleased and proud to be doing it. I think I’ll be quite calm. We’ll see.

“Triathlon and duathlon are very popular at the minute and Swindon is a great place to be doing it. We’ve got a very successful triathlon club and we’ve got lots of good cycling clubs in Swindon, we’re close to really nice countryside to cycle in and it’s a great place to do it.

“Hopefully this might inspire other people to get into it because I think it’s a great sport.”

Parnell had to finish in the top four, within a certain percentage of the winning time, to reach Spain but outdid even her own expectations in claiming victory in the race at the end of March.

She said: “I thought I’d be third but I won it, so I was really chuffed.

“It’s really surreal. I did prepare really well for it, I felt, but it’s incredible.

“I crossed the line and I thought ‘what have I done’. I didn’t really believe it, to be honest.

“I’ve always loved cycling, ever since I was a girl and I used to cycle up and down where I used to live. I took up running, I was a 400m runner when I was growing up, and competed regionally. Then I started getting lots of injuries in my 20s and I took up cycling and just combined the two.

“This is only my third season. I’m really pleased. Loads of people have been really encouraging. I’m a personal trainer and lots of my clients have been really encouraging. They’ve been giving some financial support as well because we’re not really funded and I’ve had a few local businesses give me support - Swindon Pulse, GPSL, REPL, Performance Cycles and Lower Shaw Farm.

“I’m just going to carry on doing what I do, it seemed to work.

“I do train quite hard anyway, training six days a week, for anything from an hour to three hours.

“I really like the training side of it, I like to run really efficiently and cycle as efficiently as possible.

“I’m really interested in the sports science side of it and I like being good at something, to be honest, it’s a really nice feeling.

“I’m in a bit of a winning streak at the moment, I hope that continues.”