TALENTED teenager Kiera Tippett returned from the World Biathle Championships with a gold medal – despite breaking her toe just a day before the competition.
The 14-year-old from Benfleet was part of the gold medal winning Great Britain team at the championships in Cypus, after finishing sixth overall.
But an accident in training a day earlier meant her championships were almost ruined before they had even started.
“We were doing some open water swimming training and the beach had lots of stones and pebbles on it,” said Tippett, a Year 10 pupil at King John School. “As I was coming out of the water I knocked my toe on one of the stones and it was so painful.
“I tried to ignore the pain at first and carry on but when I stopped it hurt a lot and then the paramedics said I had broken it.”
With the heats and potential final the next day, Tippett was determined not to let the injury beat her, even if she woke up the next morning with a throbbing pain in her toe.
“It was a constant pain but I had gone all that way to race and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me,” she said.
Biathle is a continuous run/swim/run event with Tippett’s 13-14 age group competing over 500m for the two runs and 100m for the swim.
Her heat was a dramatic affair with a whole host of girls in contention to secure one of the five automatic qualifying spots for the final in the closing stages.
“In my heat there was seven of us all within a second of each other,” said Tippett who runs for Basildon AC. “It was a mad scramble for the line and luckily enough I got through. “The first thing I did when I crossed the line was count back to see where I was and I was so relieved when I was fourth.”
The final, which took place later the same day, was less frantic, but Tippett still used her quick finish to steal a place in the closing stages and finish sixth overall.
She also finished as the third and final scoring British athlete meaning she got to stand on top of the podium and hear the national anthem.
“I was so happy,” said Tippett. “It was an amazing experience to stand up there. I think my mum was crying!”
The medal made up for Tippett’s previous appearance at the World Biathle Championships in 2012 when she lost a trainer in the closing stages and finished seventh overall and fourth Briton – one outside the team scoring places.
And the talented teenager is already looking ahead to next year’s championships where she will go up an age group to the 15-16 category, something she is sure will suit her more.
“The distances go up in the older age group,” Tippett explained. “Next year the runs will be 1,000m and the swim 500m and that will suit me more.”