Bedford books spot at British Modern Biathlon Championships
Jamie Bedford conceded he surprised even himself in qualifying for the British Modern Biathlon Championships.
Having left Saltus Grammar School and the island last year, to further pursue his passion of triathlon at Millfield School in Somerset, England, the Bermudian-born 15-year-old saw his opportunities to gain higher-level race experience limited, as the Covid-19 pandemic halted much of the sporting calendar.
However, following the recommendations of his coach to maintain performance levels ahead of the start of the triathlon season in March, Bedford opted to compete in the sport of biathlon — consisting of a swim and run discipline — entering the South West Schools Trials in late December.
Despite competing against a strong field, his encouraging performance over an individual 200 metres swim and individual 1,600m run reaped reward, with a points total of 2,143 ultimately proving enough to qualify for the under-16 category of the British Championships at University of Bath on February 26.
“I did not really think I’d done very well until I got the e-mail that I’d qualified,” Bedford said. “I guess the field I was racing in was just particularly fast because I thought I was quite average compared to everyone else; like there was no chance of me qualifying.
“It wasn’t really my kind of race because it’s not continuous; it’s more of an individual swim and an individual run unlike in triathlon, and of course there’s no bike discipline in the race.
“However, the entire squad was advised to sign up to the race, seeing as triathlon race season normally starts in March, so I thought I’d give it a go.”
Just as ahead of the schools trials, Bedford admitted he has no real expectations of how he may fare at the British Championships next month, as he again takes a step into the relatively unknown.
“I’ve got no idea how to feel ahead of the championships because I’ve never raced against these people before, so I have got no clue what kind of times they’re going to put out or how good they’re going to be,” he added. “All I can really do is hope that I can go there and do well enough,” Bedford said.
Turning attention back to his true passion, the aspiring triathlete is hopeful of forging a career in the sport, taking inspiration from Bermuda’s historic Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete Dame Flora Duffy, who herself left the island for England as a 16-year-old in pursuit of her lifelong dream.
“I can definitely see triathlon as being a part of my life in the future, seeing as it’s such a big part of my life now, with training roughly 23 hours a week,” said Bedford, who has made a relatively seamless transition to relocating overseas.
“Moving to the UK’s actually been all right, to be fair. I’ve got a good group of friends, so it’s been a pretty smooth transition.
“Obviously, one of my heroes in the sport would have to be Flora Duffy, seeing as she’s the first Bermudian to win an Olympic gold medal.”