Dan Overcomes Illness to Secure World Championships Berth

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A University of Worcester student has qualified for this year’s World Duathlon Championships, just weeks after recovering from pneumonia.

Dan Geisler, who is part of the University’s Elite Athlete Mentor Scheme, qualified for the 2014 Championships, to be held in Pontevedra, Spain on May 31 and June 1, following a great performance in the qualification event, the ‘Dambuster Duathlon’ earlier this month.

That followed a tumultuous spell, which saw Dan diagnosed with pneumonia at the start of February, and have to battle back to full fitness following his recovery.

He says: “February was a month to forget really; I was told I had pneumonia, then on my return to competition, had a terrible race. I launched myself back into training when I was given the all-clear, but probably over-did it and didn’t rest as much as I should have.

“Thankfully though, I was able to reflect on that before the Dambuster Duathlon, which is the first major event of the season, with a high standard of athletes and a notoriously hilly course.

“I felt rested and in control of my race for the first time since the pneumonia struck, and I was able to set my fastest 10k to date in the first leg; duathlon competitions consist of three legs – a cycling leg sandwiched between two runs.

“I was passed by a few faster athletes on the bike, but I didn’t panic and was able to overtake some of those people around the 30k mark. After a very smooth transition into the final 5k run, I was able to chase down two more athletes and post my first ever sub 17-minute 5k.”

That performance ensured Dan finished in fourth place in his age group, enough to secure him a place at the World Championships, despite the fact that he has only raced competitively for the last two years.

As the Championships approach, he will be financially supported by a University Scholarship, and he says that the institution’s support has been invaluable: “Without backing of the University I would not be able to take part at the championships, so I am extremely grateful.

“These types of opportunities don’t come round too often and I will grab it with both hands. I am looking forward to competing on the world stage and I want to be at my best leading up to the race. Making sure my training and preparation is at its best will be paramount to my performance.”