A four-time winner of the Mini London Marathon, Stanford has gone on to become one of the greatest Triathletes around, claiming the world title in 2013.
Sport has always played a significant part in my life. I was brought up surrounded by sport, in a very positive environment with plenty of great role models. My Mum was a gymnastics coach and I spent many an hour playing in the gym while some of the countries top gymnasts trained around me. I naturally did gymnastics myself at a young age, along with tennis, ballet and swimming lessons to name but a few.
My first memory of wanting to go the Olympics is from about the age of 9 where I asked my Mum if I would go to the Olympics as a gymnast. I think it was very evident even then that I did not possess much gymnastic talent so quite honestly, she told me no. So I decided I would pursue my ambition in a different sport and took up swimming. When I started secondary school I also found myself on the cross country team, and after a few local races decided to join the athletics club, Swansea Harriers.
Some of my fondest memories from running come from the London Mini Marathon. It was always such an exciting weekend and I looked forward to it every year. Although I did well on the country, I always felt more at home on the road and loved the atmosphere and grandeur of such a prestigious event; my excitement certainly carried me to a handful of victories. I remember one year being presented with my trophy by Jonny Wilkinson, and even a die-hard WRU fan like myself couldn’t keep help but feel very smug! I was also very fortunate to race the year that Paula Radcliffe ran her amazing World Record, and remember watching her tearing down towards Buckingham Palace. Paula was one of my idols growing up and I had goose bumps watching her that day.
The London Mini Marathon played a significant role in my early career. It gave me an insight into the excitement of big races, and I always left the big city inspired to one day follow in the footsteps of my sporting heroes.
By the time I started my second year at the University of Birmingham, I’d had a string of injuries that spanned over 2 years. Frustrated and downhearted, I started swimming with the University Triathlon team as a means of cross training. Having not swum since the age of 16, I loved being back in the water, and it wasn’t long before I’d been convinced to give triathlon a shot. I raced my first triathlon in 2009 and my journey from complete novice to the 2013 World Champion has been an unforgettable rollercoaster. I’ve had some of the best days of my life, coupled with some of the toughest. I’ve had to learn very fast, and I’ve often had to learn the hard way. But it’s all been worth it and I still get excited about going out on my bike everyday with my friends; I consider myself very lucky that I’m doing something I love.