Shropshire Star

Chas mixes it with the best at World Triathlon Championships

Newport & District Running Club member Chas Bickford-Smith travelled to Spain to compete in the World Triathlon Championships.


The event comprised of triathletes from all four corners of the globe, including South and North America, Australia, China, New Zealand and across Europe.

Bickford-Smith finished 42nd out of 72 participants in his age group, which given the fact he had only set out on his quest to qualify in 2021, was an impressive individual feat.

“The adventure started in 2021. I was chatting with another competitor before the start of the Ellesmere Triathlon,” Bickford-Smith reveals. “I questioned him on his GB Team hoody and he suggested I look at qualifying to gain a place at the World Championship in Spain in 2023. So I entered the two Olympic distances qualifying races (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) for 2022. I paid the British Triathlon fee to be considered if I came in the top three in my age group (Woodhall Spa and Ellesmere).”

However, things didn’t start well. He spent preparation nursing two separate rib injuries, and failed to make the top three places in qualification.

But fate would later intervene, and help pave the way to the Triathlon Championships in Pontevedra.

“Fast forward to April 2023 – out of the blue I received an email from British Triathlon to say I had qualified,” he recalls. “I can only think that the bloke (who finished third in qualification) had decided not to go so I was handed a GB Team place.”

After hearing the news, Bickford-Smith booked his flights and travelling to Spain with his wife Liz and son Josh.

He was involved in the parade of nations as people of Pontevedra turned out to clap and cheer the participants.

Bickford-Smith clocked a time of 28 minutes over his 1,500m swim, and completed a hilly 40km course in 1 hour and 18 minutes in the cycling.

He crossed the line having ran 10km in 47 minutes, and while he was impressed with his performance, it is the unique experience which will stick long in the memory for Bickford-Smith.

“That was quite an experience. Being part of the GB Team and racing against some of the best amateur triathletes in the world in the historical city of Pontevedra on the west coast of Spain,” he reflects. “And amazingly, I didn’t come last! But I went for the experience and thoroughly enjoyed the event.”