By Matt Wright, Sportsbeat
Triathlete Madeline Cooper says watching English success at this summer’s Commonwealth Games has intensified her desire to follow in her heroes’ footsteps.
The 18-year-old from Horton Heath had hoped to be able to travel up to Sutton Coldfield to watch the triathlon competitions, but a slight illness meant she had to consume Team England’s dominance via television.
Cooper recently returned from a break in which she sat her A-Level exams at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, but is now setting her sights on emulating the likes of gold medallists Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown.
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Cooper said: “They’re at the top of their game and they went through the same pathway as we’re going through right now, so it just gives you hope.
“The big aim is to compete in Commonwealth Games or Olympics.
“Another of my main aims is to compete in the World Triathlon Series events as an elite.
“But to then get to a Commonwealth or Olympic Games would be great.”
Cooper’s first race back was in the Europe Triathlon Junior Cup race at Holten, Netherlands, although she admits there were a few cobwebs as she finished 18th at a time where she was building back fitness.
She now has the British Triathlon Grand Final in Sunderland to look forward to and beyond that is the start of the cyclo-cross season, the other sport in which she competes.
Cooper, who classes cycling as her strongest discipline, said: “I’m still with my race team for this coming season, Montezuma’s Race Team, and we’re just starting to get ready now for the start of the season in September.
“That looks quite exciting and I’ve got quite a few exciting things lined up. Hopefully that season will go for me as well.
“At the moment, I’m still doing both triathlon and cyclocross and I don’t feel like I have to choose [between them].
“It just fits in quite well that the triathlon season finishes just before the cross season starts, while it also maintains my fitness over the winter.”
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What helps Cooper compete on two fronts is the fact she receives funding from SportsAid and Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – as part of their grassroots sports investment programme called Pitching In, which allows her, and her family, to cover expenses when it comes to equipment and travel.
“It’s been so helpful,” Cooper said.
“Travelling is a big one because I like getting to all the European Cups and stuff, so it’s been huge and I can’t thank them enough.
“My dad is extremely grateful as well as he drives me to a lot of places, so he’s very grateful for it.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more