SUFFOLK SPORTS AWARDS: Triumph over Adversity

Al MacPherson

Al MacPherson - Credit: 2011 Ultraman UK

The annual Suffolk Sports Awards will take place at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on Friday night. Fourteen awards will be presented and this section looks at the Suffolk Coastal District Council Triumph Over Adversity Award. Next Wednesday we’ll bring you the winners from the event in the Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times.

Al Macpherson (Ultraman)

The triathlete became the first British athlete, and only sixth in the world to conquer all three Ultraman competitions, having already overcome Ultraman UK and the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii, he competed in Ultraman Canada.

An Ultraman event consists of a six-mile swim followed by a 260-mile bike ride and a 52-mile run over three days. A day before Alan flew out to Canada he attended West Suffolk Hospital for his latest batch of treatment for Crohn’s Disease.

A severe case of the disease put Alan, a keen marathon runner at the time, in hospital for three weeks in 2004 which almost killed him.

He slowly built up his strength and took up triathlon in 2008, competed in his first Ironman competition in 2010 and his first Ultraman competition a year later.

Katie Lines (Swimming)

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An elite swimmer at the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad club, Katie was admitted to hospital in March 2012 where, following a series of tests, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Against all odds, Katie still managed to swim in the final weekend of the competition and finished as runner-up in her age group.

It was at the Norwich Open Meeting that Katie showed she was back to full competitive swimming, gaining personal bests in all her events and rounding her meet with silver in the 200m breaststroke.

After competing in the club championships in December, Katie qualified for the Suffolk Championships in 14 events in varying distances and strokes and finished first in five, second in six and third in the remaining three giving her enough points to become overall Suffolk champion for 11-year olds and qualifying her for the East Region Championships.

Rhys Turnbull (Athletics)

Aged five, Rhys, pictured, could not walk across the playground without falling over.

Rhys, now 13, suffers from learning disabilities and Dyspraxia, a condition which disrupts brain signals to his body making his movement uncoordinated.

In 2012 Rhys represented his school at the East Region Athletics Championships, coming away with two gold medals in the 100m and 200m.

A year later, Rhys returned to the East Region championships and came away with two gold medals in the 100m and 200m, and a silver medal in the 800m.

Rhys gained the qualifying times to represent the East Region at the DSE Junior National Athletics Championships at both 100m and 200m and came away with a bronze medal in the 100m and beat his 200m personal best by almost five seconds.

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