Fitness fanatic Steven Barnes has breathed a big sigh of relief after avoiding a world championship nightmare.

The 37-year-old from Brundall's dream of appearing at a global competition in October looked like never becoming a reality thanks to a financial shortfall of around £3,000. Yet he has been left stunned after support, and money, poured in following his appeal for help in this newspaper. As a result, Barnes can now finally look forward to pulling on a Great Britain race suit for the first time when he tackles the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Sprint Distance Duathlon World Championships in Australia later this year.

The amateur athlete said: 'I've been so overwhelmed by the kind support shown by my family – especially my wife for putting up with me – friends, work colleagues and anonymous contributors who have added cash donations, donated via my online funding page and supported my fundraising events.

'I would like to say a massive thank you to Enigmedia Marketing, Broom Boats and Breckland Mowers for their sponsorship, as without their backing my dream of competing for Great Britain would still be in doubt. I've also had fantastic support and advice from Jarrolds/Pilch in Norwich and Triharder of Dereham.

'I can now say; 'I will be competing for Great Britain in the world championships' instead of 'I am hoping to', which feels fantastic and is a massive weight off my shoulders.'

The former grassroots footballer qualified for the October 18 showcase by finishing 28th out of 479 in his first ever duathlon – an endurance discipline which involves a combination of cycling and running (sprint distance, 17.08 miles). That seventh-placed age-group (35-39) position landed him a GB spot for the event Down Under.

Barnes' stunning rookie success continued on Sunday when he took on his third race – which he won riding his new world championship race-specific bike in Newmarket.

'I would also like to offer my thanks to the EDP/Evening News readers, especially the person who made a substantial anonymous contribution to my fund after reading the original story about me,' added Barnes, who trains alone.

Contact Barnes on 07786362029 if you wish to help fill the sponsor spaces on his race suit.


Name: Steven Barnes

Age: 37

Lives: Brundall

Job: Works in IT

Duathlons completed: 3

Event criteria: 3.1-mile run, 12.4-mile bike and 1.55-mile run