New ‘ageist’ rule frustrates world champion triathlete

L33811H14''Ironman Triathlon racer Daphne Belt SUS-140819-152632001
L33811H14''Ironman Triathlon racer Daphne Belt SUS-140819-152632001

A 76-YEAR-OLD triathlete and world champion has hit out at ‘ageist’ rules that state she needs a doctor’s note to compete.

Daphne Belt, from Littlehampton, has taken part in 30 national championships and been an athlete for 26 years, but was told this week her medical insurance was conditional past the age of 75.

The two-time world champion in her age group must now be certified fit by a GP before every event, or lose her place on the GB team.

Daphne said: “I think it’s seriously ageist, I think it’s most unfair.

“It’s definitely not PC, but I’m pretty much on my own.

“I think there’s only one other lady in my age group.”

She added that she was ‘not going down without a shout’ and that she would write to the British Triathlon Federation to complain about ageism in sport.

The letters from the British Triathalon Federation (BTF) explain that Daphne must meet insurance requirements to renew her membership this April.

It stated members over 75 had been asked in the past to provide written confirmation from a GP to confirm they were fit for all future comptetitions and this was now required in advance of every individual event.

Without her membership, Daphne will be excluded from representing her country in triathalons and other multi-disciplined events.

Daphne said that her competitors in America do not have any such conditions placed on them because of their age.

“Obviously I want to carry on representing my country at events. I will have to do it, but it’s not right,” she said.

“I just feel that the BTF should have fought my corner a bit because they’ve just let the insurance company walk all over me.”

To mark her 75th year, Daphne completed a 75 triathalons in 75 days from January 1 to August 14.

She also successfully defended her title in the 75-79 age group in the ITU World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Chicago.

A few days later she took on the sprint distance race, and came third.

She has never claimed on her event insurance and finds the over 75s rule ridiculous.

She said: “I’m totally dedicated to my training, that is what is so hurtful.

“I train every day unless something major happens.”

Daphne starts her rigourous daily training routine at 5.30am and finishes at around 8am before the normal day begins.

Her typical mornings include swimming and a 5k run or a two to three-hour ‘turbo’ cycling session.

A ‘longer run’ on Saturdays and training with friends makes up the week.

Her husband Stephen, in his 60s, is also a long-distance runner and her training coach. The couple have been together 39 years and sport is a common interest.

“It’s our lives, we both do it, we both love it,” Daphne said.

“We do everything together, we’re great pals, best friends.”

A Littlehampton local of 24 years, Daphne has received five awards for her achievments including the Worthing Herald’s Sports Star award in 2015. Her example has been an inspiration to others.

Daphne said: “I always do what I can to encourage other women in the sport or some kind of exercise.

“I know I do because people say ‘I’ve heard about you’.”

The couple run their own triathlon club and Daphne has no intention of slowing down in her sporting 

Her next challenges to be signed fit for include the Worthing triathlon in 
August, the Brighton and Hove triathlon in September and a half ‘Iron Man’ in Poland. The competition involves swimming in the Baltic Sea.

She said: “I don’t think about retiring, I can’t, I just like to be active and to be fit.”

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