A SOLICITOR with a budding triathlon career is targeting success on the world stage thanks to support from a Wrexham-based copier firm.
Stephanie King, from Saltney, who is aiming for a best ever top 20 finish at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Switzerland in September, has been handed an ‘invaluable’ sponsorship boost by Rawson Digital, which is enabling her to compete at the highest level.
The 26-year-old real estate solicitor, who works for Chester law firm Aaron and Partners, is also competing in her second Ironman in Hamburg, Germany, this summer, which is the most gruelling type of triathlon event you can tackle.
This is the second year that Vaughn Rawson, managing director of Rawson Digital, has sponsored Stephanie, who has represented Great Britain as part of the age-group racing squad which places her in the top 20 in the country for her age-group.
Her talent means she often finds herself competing at the same events as the UK’s elite triathlon athletes, including the Brownlee brothers and Sophie Coldwell.
The funds from Rawson Digital are crucial for covering travel and equipment costs so she can continue to pursue her triathlon dream.
Stephanie, who was born in Macclesfield but grew up in Ellesmere in Shropshire, said: “It’s an expensive sport and people do struggle. Even at elite level, triathletes rely on sponsorship and prize money so Vaughn’s support is invaluable.
“The money covers entry fees, racing kit, bike maintenance and travel. Last year it was used to purchase my TT bike.
“It’s not just the financial element though, he is incredibly supportive and always sends words of encouragement.
“It is an honour to represent Rawson Digital, the support from Vaughn and the team has been incredible.”
Rawson Digital supplies and maintains photocopiers, printers and accessories with an aftercare service to firms in North Wales, the North West, further afield in the UK, and the Isle of Man.
It was set up by Vaughn Rawson, managing director, six years ago from his home in Gresford but now employs 17 people between its newly refurbished head office at The Bridge Business Centre, Wrexham, and a second base in Dinorwic Marina, Y Felinheli, near Bangor.
Vaughn said: “I’m absolutely delighted to sponsor Stephanie for the second year running. She’s a truly inspirational young woman.
“I’m so impressed by her dedication and desire to push herself to the absolute limit.
“We can’t wait to follow her progress this year and I’m sure she’ll go on to achieve her best results yet.”
The former Chester University of Law student, who had just returned from an early season training camp in Mallorca, has to follow a tiring, time-consuming training schedule but she is fiercely dedicated and determined to achieve her goals.
Stephanie, who was the first female over the line and seventh overall in the Boundary Park Triathlon recently, said: “I work full time so I have to train in the mornings and evenings although sometimes I do train on my lunch. I also have a dog to walk twice a day so there is a lot to fit into a day!
“On average I probably do about 20 hours of training a week. The fact is you don’t enjoy every moment and there are times when you don’t want to get out of bed.
“The way I see it is the whole time I’m training hard other athletes are doing the same. Every session you don’t do means they are then ahead of the game. It’s an incredibly competitive sport, you can’t get behind.
“Being fit is a motivation and it can be quite addictive. My goals have changed a lot since starting triathlon. Right now I am focusing on the Ironman and working really hard towards that goal with my coach Joel Jameson. As well as that I want to keep racing for GB and to be competitive – I want to finish in the top 20 in Switzerland.
“My ultimate goal is to make The Ironman World Championship held in Hawaii. Then I’ll be able to retire!”
Stephanie, who also has support from her partner James Harris who trains and travels with her to competitions all over the globe, began competing as a triathlete in 2015 but it was an event in her hometown and a promise made to her dad that led her on the path to Team GB.
She explained: “I’ve always liked sport and played team games at school but I wasn’t much of a runner. When I went to uni I started rowing quite competitively but then had a back injury and had to give it up.
“A few people said why not try cycling and take the pressure off your back. I then saw people doing triathlons and thought I’d like to do that.
“I wasn’t a strong swimmer but trained myself up to do it and in 2015 completed my first event, the Deva Triathlon in Chester.
“By chance there just happened to be a GB qualifying event local to me in Ellesmere. I was really new to triathlon and didn’t think I stood a chance, but I came second which meant I would have qualified for GB.
“My elation at doing better than I thought soon turned to disappointment when I couldn’t take my slot because I hadn’t notified British Triathlon of my intention to be considered for selection.
“Being honest I didn’t know how it worked but I promised my dad that next time I would notify them!
“In 2016 I did my first Ironman after Googling ‘what’s the hardest triathlon you can do’ so I put all my efforts into doing that and didn’t think about qualifiers.
“The following year I took a rest from longer races. I ended up qualifying for the European Championships in 2017 at the Bala Triathlon. The event too place in Tartu, Estonia which was an incredible place to visit. I was delighted to take 11th place in my first race for GB.
“Then I qualified for the World Championships in Australia and raced on the Gold Coast which was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
It was out in Australia where Stephanie met sporting idols including double Olympic gold medal winner Alistair Brownlee.
She said: “I was training in the Commonwealth Games pool early one morning and as I was finishing up the GB men’s squad came in including Alistair Brownlee.
“When you meet these people you quickly realise how down to earth they are and how happy they are to talk about the sport they love.
“It was also great to see GB elite athlete Sophie Coldwell win the European Championships in Estonia. It’s really inspiring.”
Stephanie added: “The sport is still very new and I am improving year on year. I’m excited to see where I can go with triathlon, but mostly I just want to carry on having fun doing it, meeting new inspirational people and travelling to race in places all over the world.”