Swansea's Non Stanford goes for gold at World Triathlon Grand Final
SWANSEA'S Non Stanford will be aiming to become the latest Welsh world champion triathlete when she races in tomorrow's World Triathlon Grand Final in London.
Stanford, who is the reigning Under-23 World Champion, has enjoyed a major breakthrough season.
The Swansea athlete stormed to victory in this year's World Triathlon Series race in Madrid, while she also claimed silver medals in San Diego, Hamburg and Stockholm.
Stanford is only 13 points off current series leader Gwen Jorgensen, and a higher-place finish than her rivals will see her follow in the footsteps of fellow Welsh women Helen Jenkins and Leanda Cave in becoming a world champion.
"It's crazy it's so close," said Stanford.
"I'm going to give it my all but, if I don't come out as No.1, then I can't be disappointed. The season has gone better than I ever expected."
Jenkins won the world title in 2011 and 2008, while Cave finished top of the pile in 2002.
Stanford will face stiff competition to emulate their achievements, with the likes of Jorgensen and second-placed Anne Haug also taking part tomorrow.
But the 24-year-old from Swansea will at least be well prepared, as she trains with the Olympic gold and bronze medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.
Stanford is based in Leeds with the Brownlee brothers, who have dominated the male triathlon scene in recent years.
Big brother Alistair, who won gold at last year's London Olympics, has two world titles to his name, while Jonathan is the reigning World Triathlon Series champion.
Stanford gets through 40 hours of gruelling training every week, helping her overcome the minor chronic fatigue syndrome which hampered her last year. That was one of the reasons why the Swansea athlete failed to qualify for the Olympics but, having trained with the Brownlees at their elite Leeds base, Stanford has made a major impact this year.
"Last year I was doing the same volume in training but I was always tired," she said. "Now I can handle it. Ultimately, though, it has been moving to Leeds to be with the elite British triathlon squad in 2011 and benefiting from the fantastic set-up that has made the difference."