Five years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a local triathlete is defying the condition by getting faster.
Ruth Wilson, 45, took up the multi-discipline sport to help her cope with the symptoms of the disease, despite not being able to swim or having any experience on a bike.
And against the predictions of her doctor, the Wroot woman is getting fitter and stronger, as she targets international success for Team GB in 2015.
It’s been a good year in the pool, in the saddle and on the road for Wilson, making the previous five years of hard work worthwhile and repaying the support of her mum and two daughters.
She said: “It has been the best year in terms of performance for me.”
“The last five years have been a steep learning curve, I have been a runner from a young age but couldn’t swim or bike at all.”
“With the help and support of friends and family, I turned a corner this year by competing on the international stage for Team GB in Duathlon, an absolute dream come true.”
Wilson, who works in Gainsborough finished just outside the medals in the World Duathlon Championships in May, taking fourth position.
She was sixth in the European version of the event, won the Grantham and Hatfield Sprint Triathlons and is the current Doncaster Parkrun record holder.
With such a long list of achievements in the calendar year, it’s little wonder she’s been recognised by her club, Lincsquad, with the Female of the Year and TT winner awards.
She told the Standard: “I was so pleased to be able to achieve these results and winning the Lincsquad awards this weekend was the icing on the cake.”
“I honestly didn’t think I would win anything and to be recognised for my efforts is an amazing feeling.”
Getting fitter, faster and better at such a gruelling sport at the age of 45 is a rare feat in itself.
But to do so while suffering from a degenerative disorder, training and competing through constant pain, is truly remarkable.
“Despite my consultant warning that over time I would get slower, due to the progressive nature of the disease, I have been getting faster and stronger,” she said.
“It’s virtually unheard of for someone with Parkinson’s to get better at sport, but I am improving every year.”
“That is not to say my illness isn’t deteriorating; I suffer from constant pain in my right arm from my tremor, my balance is not as sharp and I stiffen up if I do not train every day.”
“This makes me even more determined to continue competing while I still can.”
It will be hard to top 2014, but Wilson will give it her best shot – with international glory in her sights.
“My main driver for next year is to get a medal for Team GB.”
“I have qualified for both the Europeans (Madrid) and World (Adelaide) Sprint Duathlon Championships again for 2015 and I have unfinished business.”
“I got fourth at the worlds by five seconds in 2014, I was absolutely gutted to miss out on the podium and I’m determined to do better in 2015.”
“Kev Dawson, my coach and mentor, will be taking my training up a gear so that I am in the best shape possible”
And she’s vowed not to let Parkinson’s get in her way – in fact she’s using it as extra motivation.
“It’s hard fitting in all the training whilst working nights, but my illness gives me the drive and determination to continue,” she added.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Wilson in her bid to become a World Duathlon champion by helping with new kit or a new bike, can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org