We have a truly inspirational Local Hero for you this month; Erica Booth. Her story journeys from bullied teen whose low self-confidence led her to become disengaged with sport, to triathlon champion!
First returning to sport as an adult in 2014, Erica joined Horwich Harriers running club to begin running training. But, following an injury a year later, she found herself unable to run and instead took up swimming and cycling for rehabilitation. Although she had never professionally swum or cycled, it quickly became apparent that she had a natural talent for both sports. Erica says that she realised she had a gift for cycling when she joined a group ride and managed to keep up with the group on a mountain bike with a rucksack on, when everyone else was on road bikes! This inspired her to purchase a road bike – the very same one which is now her racing bike.
Erica’s newly discovered love and talent for cycling and swimming motivated her to begin training seriously across all three sports once she was able to run again. Just four months into training, she entered her first ever triathlon race and won – as the first female! Erica says: “I haven’t looked back since and I am now in my second season of triathlon.”
Towards the end of the last year’s season, Erica joined up with a professional triathlon coach, Lukas Siska. Lukas is an ex-professional Slovakian triathlete who has trained Erica to her best for the 2017 European Championships, where she is representing her Great Britain Age Group Team. On average, she competes in up to 10 triathlons each season, 2 duathlons, and several running races and cycling time trials – that’s up to 20 events each season!
Incredibly, Erica now trains between 15-20 hours each week, whilst still finding time for her family and full-time job at Barnardo’s Charity, where she works as a Manager and Therapist for children and young people in care. Erica says of all this; “I sacrifice a lot of social aspects and can be training as early as 5:30am and as late as 10pm.” Now that is some serious dedication!
Erica has already made a long list of amazing achievements, including winning her first triathlon, gaining a podium result in every race, qualifying to represent her GB Age Group Team in only six months of starting out, and winning a Silver and Bronze Medal in her first European triathlons – automatically entering her into the two 2018 championships in Glasgow and Estonia! It is safe to say that her inspirational level of dedication is paying off.
Along with her love for sport, Erica finds a huge source of motivation in providing a role model for young people; young girls in particular. Working for many years in youth work and counselling, combined with her own difficult experiences at school which led her to give up on sport, Erica feels passionately that sport is one of the best ways to engage and improve the emotional health and wellbeing of young people – and we couldn’t agree more!
There is also a serious under-representation of women in sport. From a young age, girls face barriers to excelling in sport, but having successful, inspiring athletes like Erica does fantastic work in breaking down those barriers. For adults as well, seeing someone who has not come from a professional sporting background, works a full-time job, has a life and family to manage, and yet has achieved an astounding amount in recent years, Erica is an incredible example of how commitment to your dreams really does pay off.
Currently with little sponsorship, Erica is limited in the races she can compete in, and to what level. If you or someone you know would be interested in sponsoring our incredible local hero, please get in touch! Erica is supported by Active Nation, Siska Training Systems, Scholars Therapies (who are also partnered with Active Nation) and Axis Podiatry. All can be found on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.